European equities mostly climbed Thursday, boosted by US stimulus hopes, vaccine rollouts, and upbeat news from Italy.
Frankfurt stocks won 0.9 percent and Paris climbed 0.8 percent after investors shrugged off earlier losses in Asia.
“European markets have continued to gain ground… as confidence returns after the turbulence of last week,” commented CMC Markets UK analyst Michael Hewson.
Milan rose by 1.6 percent after former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi got to work on trying to form a new Italian government to lift his country out of coronavirus-induced turmoil.
“Draghi has been asked to form a government of national unity in Italy. He’s a highly skilled operator, a consummate politician and we know he’ll do ‘whatever it takes’ to steer Italy out of its worst economic and health crisis since the war,” said Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.
– BoE holds UK rate –
However London stocks were essentially unchanged after the Bank of England held its key interest rate at a record-low 0.1 percent and stimulus levels steady, causing the pound to rise.
The BoE also cut its 2021 gross domestic product growth forecast to 5.0 percent from 7.25 percent although Britain has moved faster than most countries in its vaccination campaign.
The central bank also hinted at the possibility of negative interest rates later this year.
“The British pound surged after the BOE eased concerns that they were closer to considering negative interest rates,” said market analyst Edward Moya at online currency trading platform Oanda.
“Hope for the best and prepare for the worst is what the BOE is telling the banks,” he added.
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– Oil takes a breather –
In commodities meanwhile, world oil prices eased up on their run towards the key $60 dollar level.
An upbeat global outlook has been pushing oil higher, with producers hoping for demand to pick up as lockdowns are eased and activities slowly resume.
But while the European and US benchmarks are roughly back to where they were before the pandemic hit, spot prices were flat or slightly lower on Thursday.
Meanwhile, US stocks moved higher in midday trading, with the Dow adding 0.8 percent, as President Joe Biden continues to push forward on a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package.
Data showed that first-time job claims for the week ending January 30 dipped from the previous week to 779,000.
“The key takeaway from the report is that the level of initial claims improved; however, they didn’t improve nearly enough to drown out calls highlighting the need for additional stimulus and extended jobless benefits,” said analyst Patrick J. O’Hare at Briefing.com.
– Key figures around 1630 GMT –
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 3,642.61 points
New York – Dow: UP 0.8 percent at 30,980.86
London – FTSE 100: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 6,503.72 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.9 percent at 14,060.29 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.8 percent at 5,608.54 (close)
Milan – FTSE MIB: UP 1.6 percent at 22,900.55 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.1 percent at 28,341.95 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.7 percent at 29,113.50 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,501.86 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1977 from $1.2036 at 2200 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 105.43 yen from 105.03 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3660 from $1.3647
Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.67 pence from 88.19 pence
West Texas Intermediate: FLAT at $55.67 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.2 percent at $58.37 per barrel.