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ECB ’bazooka’ blows eurozone stocks up

ECB ’bazooka’ blows eurozone stocks up

LONDON: Eurozone stocks rallied Thursday after the ECB slashed its main interest rate to zero percent for the first time, and boosted the amount of stimulus it is pumping into the economy.

While Paris and Milan shot up more than 3.0 percent immediately after the European Central Bank’s monetary policy announcements, they pared their gains after the central bank cut its growth and inflation forecasts.

Paris was up 1.5 percent, Frankfurt 0.8 percent and Milan 2.4 percent as trading opened on Wall Street.

The euro slumped as low as $1.0822 after the ECB’s announcements, down from $1.1001 late on Wednesday in New York, but bounced back to $1.1036 as Draghi gave a news conference.

“This makes for a much more dramatic package than had been expected and (ECB chief Mario) Draghi got what he wanted,” said Russ Mould, investment director at trading firm AJ Bell.

“Share prices rose, bond yields fell across the peripheral south and the euro fell sharply against the dollar.”

He added: “Draghi has now set the stage for next week when central banks in Japan, the UK and US are all set to announce their latest interest rate decisions — and this is likely to have a huge say in whether share prices can beat off the fear of a bear market or not.”

– Bazooka no guarantee –

The Frankfurt-based ECB said it is cutting its central “refi” refinancing rate to zero percent from 0.05 percent previously.

At the same time, it lowered the rate on its marginal lending facility to 0.25 percent from 0.30 percent and on the deposit facility to minus 0.40 percent from minus 0.30 percent.

The bank also announced it would expand the volume of bonds it purchases each month under its programme of quantitative easing to 80 billion euros from 60 billion euros. And it would also start buying corporate bonds under the QE programme.

Previous moves announced by the ECB back in December had underwhelmed investors and were perceived by the financial markets as being half-hearted.

“Following the adverse reaction to December’s disappointment and in light of the growing downside risks to the recovery, the (ECB) Governing Council appears to have recognised the importance of not under-delivering again,” said economist Jonathan Loynes at research group Capital Economics.

“All told, the ECB deserves credit for learning from its mistake in December.

Confidence across trading floors has been broadly upbeat this month after a recent rally that has seen equities, oil and high-yielding, or riskier, currencies make up some of the hefty losses suffered in January and February.

And there is hope those gains can be built upon after the ECB’s decisions.

“But there is no guarantee that its latest ‘bazooka’ will be any more effective than previous ones in securing the strong and sustained growth required to eliminate the threat of deflation in the currency union and allow the peripheral countries to tackle their debt problems,” said Loynes.

– Kiwi tanks –

Also on Thursday, the New Zealand central bank announced a surprise cut in interest rates to a record low, the first reduction since June.

The move, while welcomed, sent the local dollar plunging two percent against its US counterpart.

In China, official figures showed inflation hit 2.3 percent in February, the highest in almost two years and beating expectations of 1.8 percent.

While the figures will be welcomed as a much-needed positive sign after Tuesday’s wretched exports data, Shanghai stocks dropped two percent as analysts put the rise down to severe weather that sent food prices spiralling.

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 6,135.47 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 9,800.89

Paris – CAC 40: UP 1.5 at 4,493.11

EURO STOXX 50: UP percent at 3,0

New York – Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 17,060.08

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.4 percent at 1,996.55

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.5 percent at 4,698.38

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.3 percent at 16,852.35 (close)

Shanghai – composite: DOWN 2.0 percent at 2,804.73 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 19,984.42 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1036 from $1.1001 on Wednesday

Dollar/yen: UP at 113.77 yen from 113.35 yen

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016

Courtesy : BRecorder



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