European markets followed on the heels of Friday's rebound in Tokyo, as investors were encouraged by Thursday's gains on Wall Street.

The key indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt each gained about four percent at the start of their trading sessions, and were in positive territory by mid-morning.

In Asia, Japan's key Nikkei index closed more than2.5 percent higher, rebounding after suffering its worst loss in two decades on Thursday.  Share prices also closed higher in Shanghai, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped nearly 4.5 percent.  

The major U.S. stock indexes soared more than four percent Thursday, with investors motivated by falling oil prices and evidence of a thaw in credit markets.

U.S. President George Bush is scheduled to speak on the economic situation Friday before U.S. markets open. He will deliver his remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The volatility of U.S. indexes before the late rally Thursday was due in part to a series of disheartening government reports, which raised new fears of a recession and concerns that efforts to rescue troubled financial institutions may not be enough.

Mr. Bush will meet Saturday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to discuss the crumbling world economy. The European leaders say they will press for an overhaul of the global financial system.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino says it is unlikely the meeting will result in any major policy announcements.

She also says no date has been set for a proposed emergency economic summit with leaders of the Group of Eight (including the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, and Russia) and other nations.

Europe's key markets in London, Frankfurt and Paris closed down sharply Thursday.  Russia's main stock exchanges also plunged on worries about falling oil prices.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.