By ELAINE KURTENBACH, AP Business Writer

BANGKOK (AP) – Global stocks were higher on Thursday after stocks rose on Wall Street, supported by encouraging reports on the potential impact of the omicron variant of the coronavirus and stronger US economic data.

Major indices are on track for Christmas week gains, with trade clearing as the holidays approach. Many world markets will be closed on Friday for Christmas.

The German DAX rose 0.2% early in the session to 15,629.92 and the CAC 40 in Paris edged up 0.1% to 7,058.21. The UK FTSE 100 edged down 0.1% to 7,331.40. US futures rose, with contracts for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones up 0.1%.

The latest increase in coronavirus cases due to the omicron variant has weighed on markets, along with concerns about rising inflation and its impact on economic growth.

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Governments in Asia and Europe have tightened travel controls or pushed back plans to ease restrictions already in place.

But reports that omicron cases may be less severe, especially for people who have been fully vaccinated, appear to have alleviated some of that concern.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.8% to 28,798.37. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rose 0.4% to 23,193.64. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6% to 3,643.34. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.5% to 2,998.17, while the S & P / ASX 200 was up 0.3% to 7,387.60.

Shares also rose in Taiwan and Thailand.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 rose 1% to 4,696.56, the Nasdaq rose 1.2% to 15,521.89 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7% to 35,753.89. The Russell 2000, a measure of small business stocks, rose 0.9% to 2,221.90.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that the US economy grew at a rate of 2.3% in the third quarter, slightly better than previously thought. But the prospects of a strong rebound going forward are clouded by the rapid spread of the latest variant of the coronavirus.

Uncertainty about the impact of the latest variant on the economy is likely to cause further stock market fluctuations.

Outbreaks of the virus intensified in South Korea, China and Australia, and cases of the omicron variant increased in other parts of Asia that had largely brought infections under control.

In other exchanges, US benchmark crude oil fell 26 cents to $ 72.50 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped 2.3% on Wednesday. Brent crude, the basis of pricing for international crude, fell 27 cents to $ 75.01 a barrel.

The US dollar rose to 114.29 Japanese yen from 114.09 yen on Wednesday night. The euro was at $ 1.1322, against $ 1.1329.

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