European shares gain ahead of ECB policy meeting
European shares advanced in early trading on Thursday, tracking strong gains on Wall Street, ahead of a European Central Bank meeting that investors expect will deliver a dovish boost to markets following recent turmoil.
British low-cost airline easyJet was the top gainer across Europe, jumping 6.7 percent after raising its full-year profit outlook.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 1.1 percent at 1,410.34 points at 0710 GMT.
The ECB is set to cut its inflation forecasts because of falling oil prices and China's economic slowdown, and will probably promise to beef up its bond-buying programme if prospects weaken further. It is expected to leave rates unchanged.
A pedestrian looks at an electronic board showing the stock market indices of various countries outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, August 27, 2015.
Asian shares struggled to recover with volatility remaining high, while emerging economy and commodity-linked currencies softened as investors worried about the global repercussions of slower growth in China.
Japan's Nikkei rose for the first time in four days, gaining 0.7 percent.
Many Asian bourses also advanced but weakness in Australia and falls in Asian currencies drove MSCI's dollar-denominated broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 0.2 percent.
European shares are expected to rise, with spread betters looking to gains of up to 0.9 percent in Germany's DAX and Britain's FTSE.
Wall Street stocks also jumped almost 2 percent on Wednesday, which traders saw as a natural move after big falls.
Despite Wednesday's rebound, shares have only recovered about half of the losses seen earlier in the week.
Also helping to boost the market, Apple, the world's largest company by market capitalization, jumped more than 4 percent, in anticipation of its Sept 9 media event where it is expected to unveil new iPhones and potentially a new version of its Apple TV set-top box.
Traders were spared for now from keeping a nail-biting watch on wild Chinese share markets, which are closed for a holiday for the rest of the week.
Still, highlighting the woes of commodity exporters that are suffering from concern about cooling growth in China, the Australian dollar fell 0.3 percent after weak local retail sales.
The Aussie slipped to $0.7020 near its six-year low of $0.6982 touched on Wednesday.
Oil prices also remained volatile after their 25 percent surge late last month from 6 1/2-year lows.
Brent crude last stood at $50.43 per barrel, slipping further from one-month high of $54.32 hit on Monday, though it kept some distance from a 6 1/2-year low of $42.23 hit just one week before that.
HIGH VOLATILITY THE NEW NORM?
While global share prices may be getting some respite, any relief rallies may be brief.
With uncertainty over policy in the United States and China, investors expect trade to remain extremely choppy.
The CBOE Volatility index is still at 26, about twice as high as its usual levels around 12 to 16, even as it has eased from a high over 50 percent hit last week.
A similar gauge for the Japanese share market, the Nikkei volatility index, stood at 36 while that for Europe was at 37 on Wednesday.
"Whenever the VIX has hit 40 in the past, volatility has stayed high for a while. I expect more aftershocks will follow," said Arihiro Nagata, head of derivatives at SMBC Nikko Securities.
In the currency market, the dollar firmed slightly against the yen, in line with the recovery in global share prices, to 120.45 yen. The euro was little changed at $1.1225, ahead of the European Central Bank's policy meeting later in the day, with some traders speculating the bank could drop hints of further easing to keep the euro zone's nascent recovery in shape.
On the other hand, many emerging market currencies remained under pressure, hit by China fears and the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates.
The Brazilian real tumbled to its weakest level since 2002 on Wednesday as expectations of a growing fiscal deficit fed fears that Brazil would lose its investment-grade credit rating.
Emerging market currencies could face more pressure if Friday's U.S. payrolls data reinforce expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve is on course to raise interest rates in coming months.
On Wednesday, U.S payroll processor ADP reported that private payrolls increased 190,000 last month. While that was below economists' expectations for a gain of 201,000 jobs, it was a step up from the 177,000 positions created in July.