European equities mostly rise before ECB rate call

London (AFP) –


Europe's stock markets rose further Thursday despite fresh financial sector gloom and before a key interest rate call from the European Central Bank.

In afternoon eurozone deals, Frankfurt stocks won 0.5 percent and Paris jumped 0.7 percent, while London flatlined heading towards midday.

The European single currency rose versus the dollar before the ECB's rate announcement at 1145GMT.

Investors shrugged off news that Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse suffered a first-quarter loss on fallout from the bankruptcies of British finance firm Greensill and US hedge fund Archegos.

Administrators overseeing Greensill's activities meanwhile declared its Australian parent group had entered liquidation.

European investors nevertheless drew some strength from rebounding Asian and US share prices.

- 'Marked improvement' -

"The mood in the market has seen a marked improvement," said OANDA analyst Sophie Griffiths.

"Following a strong close on Wall Street, European bourses are playing catch up, adding to gains in the previous session."

ECB chief Christine Lagarde is expected to underline its commitment to cheap money, as Europe's biggest economies battle a surge in coronavirus infections that could slow the eurozone recovery.

The ECB, which had soothed jittery markets last month by promising to "significantly" step up the pace of its pandemic emergency bond purchases, is widely predicted to hold interest rates at historic lows on Thursday.

"Lagarde will probably re-iterate that the euro area will need intensified support due to recent spike in Covid infections and lockdowns, even as the European governments have finally got their act together on the vaccinations," noted ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

- Asia clawback -

Asian stocks mostly clawed back the week's losses Thursday after Wall Street overnight broke a two-day dip that had been sparked partly by virus-fuelled jitters.

Investors took the New York dip as a cue to buy, with the Dow rising back above 34,000 and closing in on last week's record finish.

Further growth in US stocks is on the horizon in the coming days with analysts expecting a run of corporate results to give a clearer picture of the post-pandemic American economy.

Tokyo led the Asian recovery with the Nikkei up 2.4 percent by the closing bell, despite an escalating coronavirus outbreak just three months before Japan hosts the pandemic-delayed Olympics.

- Key figures around 1040 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 6,898.69 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.5 percent at 15,270.89

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.7 percent at 6,252.62

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 percent at 4,005.35

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 2.4 percent at 29,188.17 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.5 percent at 28,755.34 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,465.11 (close)

New York - Dow: UP 0.9 percent at 34,137.31 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2053 from $1.2035

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3915 from $1.3931

Euro/pound: UP at 86.62 pence from 86.39 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.02 yen from 108.08 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.4 percent at $65.08 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.4 percent at $61.11 per barrel