TOKYO — World stock markets were mostly higher Wednesday as oil company Shell announced a $69.7 billion takeover of British rival BG Group and Japan's central bank maintained its expansive monetary policy.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent to 7,000.91 while France's CAC 40 was flat at 5,149.77. Germany's DAX slipped 0.4 percent to 12,069.76. U.S. shares were set for moderate gains, with S&P 500 and Dow futures each up 0.1 percent.
ENERGY DEAL: Royal Dutch Shell agreed to buy BG Group for 47 billion pounds ($69.7 billion) in a cash and stock deal. Energy companies are looking to reduce costs and become more efficient in the wake of tumbling oil prices and can do that by combining businesses. Christian Stadler, associate professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School, said the deal "could be the beginning of a new wave of mega-mergers in the sector."
Shares in Shell were down 4.7 percent while BG Group's soared 37 percent.
BANK OF JAPAN: The Bank of Japan maintained its policy of super-easy lending, which had been expected. Japan is trying to escape two decades of economic stagnation and deflation by massively expanding the supply of money in the world's No. 3 economy. Japan's main index had risen in anticipation that accommodative monetary policy would be maintained and held its gains after the decision was announced.
THE QUOTE: The aggressive monetary stimulus program in Japan has "provided a compelling backdrop for strong Japanese stock performance," said analyst Nicholas Teo at CMC Markets in Singapore. "Japanese equities have had a tough twenty years mostly languishing in the backseat," he said. "The Nikkei at around the 20,000 level now, is barely half of where it was in the early 1990s."
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to close at 19,789.81, which is near a 15-year high. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6 percent at 5,960.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rocketed 3.8 percent to 26,236.86 after a five-day long weekend. South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.6 percent to 2,059.26. Markets in Southeast Asia were mixed while benchmarks in Shanghai and India rose.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down $1.18 at $52.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $1.84, or 3.5 percent, to close at $53.98 a barrel in New York on Tuesday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 119.77 yen from 120.30 yen Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.0869 from $1.0823.