Business Irish

Sunday 26 March 2017

European stocks rebound as ECB meeting looms

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York. Photo: Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York. Photo: Reuters

European shares rebounded after two days of declines as investors speculated on further stimulus from the European Central Bank (ECB) when it meets today.

By mid-afternoon in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index was up 0.36pc, or 22.31, points to 6,291.78.

The mid afternoon leaders on the Dublin market included insulation group Kingspan, which rose 4.8pc to €22.19, while packaging giant Smurfit Kappa was up 2.6pc to €23.

On the other side of the board, the laggards included hotel group Dalata, which fell to 0.2pc while fruit company Fyffes slipped 1.1pc to €1.34.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx 600 rose 0.8pc to 340.17 by mid-afternoon in London.

The equity gauge has recovered 12pc from a 2013 low reached last month amid concern over global growth and a rout in banks.

Investors are once again looking to the ECB for reassurance that monetary policy will focus on boosting growth.

President Mario Draghi said in January that officials will consider the possibility of more stimulus at the upcoming gathering.

"Expectations are quite high [for today]," said Daniel Murray, the London-based head of research at EFG Asset Management.

"There's talk of rate cuts, increasing the size of the asset-purchase programme, and expanding the range of products that the ECB will buy. Let's see how good Draghi is at playing the market: he has built up expectations before and found them hard to meet."

Prudential led insurers higher with a 2.4pc advance after reporting a 19pc increase in profit. Gains in oil helped energy shares rebound from their deepest sell-off in two weeks.

Burberry Group fell 6.3pc after people familiar with the matter said that HSBC's disclosure that it held 5pc of the UK fashion retailer's shares was part of a series of trades rather than a single bidder building a stake.

While all economists in a Bloomberg survey expect the central bank to cut interest rates, and 73pc project them to boost the amount of money put into the financial system through bond purchases, fund managers aren't optimistic about a post-decision equity rally. In the first year of quantitative easing, the Euro Stoxx 50 Index fell about 17 pc, and volatility reached levels not seen since 2008. The gauge has dropped in each month but one following an ECB meeting since April.

Mediaset led gains among media-related companies after a report that Telecom Italia's wireless infrastructure unit may offer €200 million for 1,000 transmission towers controlled by a subsidiary.

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