European stocks were higher for a second straight session Thursday, regaining some momentum as the U.K.’s general election draws focus in the region. The regional Stoxx 600 index was up 0.6% in late morning trade, as sectors were mostly in the green. Banks rose 1% while utilities dipped 0.38%. Asia-Pacific markets mostly rose Thursday as Japan’s major indexes as well as Taiwan’s benchmark hit all-time highs. The Topix rose 0.92% to close at 2898.47, crossing its previous all-time high of 2,886.50, set in December 1989. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.82% to close at 40913.65, surpassing an all-time high of 40,888.43, set in March this year. The Taiwan Weighted Index also reached a fresh high, surpassing its previous record of 23,406.1 set on June 20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.21% in its final hour of trading. Mainland China’s CSI 300 ended the day flat at 3,445.81. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended Thursday up 1.19% at 7,831.9. South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.11% to end at 2824.94, while the Kosdaq was up 4.71% to 840.81. Oil prices fell in early trade on Thursday after U.S. employment and business activity data came in weaker than expected, in signs the economy may be cooling in the world’s top oil consuming nation. Brent crude futures were down 30 cents, or 0.34%, at $87.04 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 32 cents, or 0.38%, to $83.56 by 0030 GMT, with activity thinned by the U.S. Fourth of July holiday. Gold prices drifted higher on Thursday after softer-than-expected U.S. economic data fueled hopes that the Federal Reserve could cut interest rates as soon as September. Spot gold was up 0.3% at $2,362.10 per ounce, as of 0200 GMT after hitting a near two-week high in the previous session. U.S. gold futures was little changed at $2,369.80.