Global shares gain as European Central Bank meeting in focus

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Analysts also expected the European Central Bank to keep its policy rate unchanged later in the day and give more hints on the euro zone's inflation outlook.

Most economists expect the governing council to postpone any decision on tapering until their September meeting.

Italian, Portuguese and Spanish government bonds are seen as the biggest beneficiaries of the central bank's ultra-loose monetary policy stance of the past few years, and some worry that the market is not fully reflecting the increased risk these countries now face if the ECB moves towards tighter policy.

The UK blue-chip index closed 58 points, or 0.8%, higher at 7,489, as the pound tumbled against the soaring euro, down 1.3% at €1.116.

Payments group Ingenico jumped 5.05 percent after it agreed to buy Swedish rival Bambora from Nordic Capital for 1.5 billion euros. "In the base case, the European Central Bank will likely reduce its monthly asset purchases by €5-€10bn euros per month beginning in January 2018, and conclude a taper of QE in the second half of 2018", chipped in Bill Adams, senior global economist at PNC Financial Services.

Markets will be scrutinising his comments for any signs as to a change in the ECB's stimulus policies.

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They were lifted as oil prices held the near 2% gains they had made the previous session when falling United States crude inventories gave the market a lift ahead of a key OPEC meeting next week.

That promise is superfluous thanks to a pick-up in economic growth, but underlines the bank's determination not to signal a stimulus exit.

While he said he expected that to come, "a very substantial degree of monetary accommodation is still needed for underlying inflation pressures to gradually build up".

Draghi said there were various factors keeping prices from rising despite an economic recovery, including backward-looking wage deals based on low increases in the past. The Governing Council expects the key European Central Bank interest rates to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases. Aussie/dollar rose to 0.7987 following the news, but retraced the gains later in the session to last trade at 0.7924. The figure for June beat expectations to rise 0.6% month-on-month, above the 0.2% forecasted expansion and the 1.2% decline recorded in the previous month.

Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever rose 1.7 percent after reporting slightly weaker than expected quarterly sales, but reaffirmed it was sticking to its full-year target. Inflation remains at 1.3 percent, well below the bank's goal of just under 2 percent it considers best for the economy.

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