UK stocks at highest level since 1999
UK stocks advanced to their highest level since 1999 yesterday after a report that Germany's Bundesbank is willing to support stimulus measures from the ECB.
The FTSE 100 Index added 21.33 points, or 0.3pc, to 6,873.08 at the close in London, and European stocks climbed to a six-year high amid better-than-estimated earnings from ThyssenKrupp and Airbus.
Henk Potts, a strategist at Barclays in London, said the markets were focusing on wide-ranging factors that have been helping sentiment: "M&A activity tends to be a big driving influence in terms of markets and we're seeing the benefit of that coming through. There's lots to be enthusiastic about given the surprisingly strong and improving economic backdrop."
Germany's central bank is willing to back ECB measures next month if staff forecasts show a lower 2016 inflation outlook for the euro area, the 'Wall Street Journal' reported. Meanwhile, German stocks advanced for a second day, with the benchmark DAX Index heading for a record close, as ThyssenKrupp raised its full-year earnings forecast, jumping 5.3pc.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.2pc to 341.78. "European companies are in very good shape. Companies with good results are going up, while those with bad numbers are going down. This is a good sign," said Herbert Perus, head of equities, Raiffeisen Capital Management, in Vienna.
The Irish Stock Exchange dropped by almost 28 points and closed at 4,868.34. Main laggers included Donegal Investment Group, down 5.6pc to €5.90, and Paddy Power, which fell 4.23pc to €56.74 within hours of CEO Patrick Kennedy saying he would step down in 2015.
Glanbia shares rose 3.9pc to more than €11 after it reported sales rose 17pc at the start of the year despite the Irish retail environment remaining challenging. Permanent Tsb rose almost 7pc. In the US, stocks reversed early gains after the Standard & Poor's 500 Index surpassed 1,900 points for the first time.