Global stocks rallied overnight on signs of growth in the international economy, despite a major computer glitch that halted trade on the second biggest exchange in the United States for more than three hours.

Figures showed manufacturing activity strengthened in China unexpectedly.

Manufacturing was also better than expected in the eurozone, and the US manufacturing sector has reached a five-month high.

On Wall Street, the mood was also lifted by figures showing claims for unemployment benefits held near a six-year low in the US, the latest sign that economic recovery there is gathering pace.

A computer glitch shut down trade on the Nasdaq for just over three hours this morning, in the latest of a series of technological troubles to hit the Nasdaq.

It is unclear what caused the error on the technology-stock focussed exchange, but Nasdaq blamed a problem with an operating system that distributes stock price quotes.

It released a statement saying that it will work with other exchanges that use the same operating system to investigate what caused the glitch.

In May, Nasdaq agreed to pay a fine of $11.1 million over glitches during Facebook's stock market debut.

The Nasdaq has about 3,200 companies listed on it, including some of the world's biggest stocks like Apple, Google and Microsoft.

The halt did little to slow a rally on the US stock market.

The the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.4 per cent higher at 14,964 points, while the S&P 500 index rose by 0.9 per cent to 1,657.

The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.1 per cent to close at 3,639 after the technology troubles were resolved.

In Europe, the major indices all rose after the Markit Flash Composite Purchasing Managers' Index showed eurozone business activity expanded at a better-than-expected pace, lifting to a reading of 51.7 for August.

In London, the FTSE 100 added 0.9 per cent to 6,447.

The gains were larger on the continent, where Germany's DAX advanced by 1.4 per cent to close on 8,398.

In France, the CAC 40 added 1.1 per cent to 4,059.

In commodity trade, the spot price of gold has risen to $US1,375.15 an ounce and West Texas Crude oil was also higher at $US104.90 a barrel on hopes that demand for energy will strengthen on the back of that strong global manufacturing data.

In Singapore, Tapis crude was fetching $US116.50 a barrel.

In currency trade, the Australian dollar has risen on those positive signs for global growth.

At 8:45am AEST it was buying 90.21 US cents, 67.5 euro cents, 89 Japanese yen, 57.8 British pence and just over $NZ1.15.

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