Global stocks extend European stimulus-inspired rally
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Global stocks continued to rise Friday as investors remained buoyed by the European Central Bank’s decision to extend its bond-buying economic stimulus program. South Korea’s benchmark slipped as lawmakers voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 6,944 and France’s CAC 40 was up 0.6 percent at 4,762. Germany’s DAX rose 0.3 percent to 11,209. U.S. shares looked set for more gains, with Dow futures up 0.2 percent and S&P futures almost 0.1 percent higher.
EURO WATCH: The European Central on Thursday extended its bond-buying economic stimulus program, known as “quantitative easing,” as investors expected. It pushed out the earliest end date for its bond-buying program to the end of next year, from March previous. However, starting in March it will begin spending less on bonds per month. The extension adds $579 billion, seen as a hedge against political uncertainties such as Italy’s recent referendum and elections next year in France, Germany and the Netherlands. China’s slowdown, U.S. rate hikes and the impact of President-elect Donald Trump on growth and global trade also loom large.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “The ECB’s policy change looks like a typical compromise” between those in favor of extending the stimulus and those who wanted to start phasing it out, said CMC’s chief market strategist, Ric Spooner. “The bottom line for markets is that (the stimulus) will continue at a substantial rate for another 12 months with the possibility of being increased if conditions deteriorate.”
U.S. RATE HIKES: The Fed is expected to raise its key interest rate by 0.25 percent at its policy-setting meeting next week, a year after its last rate hike. Investors are watching for clues about whether the Fed will stick to “gradual rate hikes” and how significant fiscal stimulus will be under Donald Trump. U.S. data remains solid, with non-manufacturing business conditions index rising, job openings and hiring remaining strong and jobless claims low.
SOUTH KOREAN IMPEACHMENT: South Korean lawmakers voted to impeach Park over a corruption scandal that drew millions of demonstrators into the streets demanding she step down. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will assume leadership until the country’s Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must go for good. Park has denied allegations she colluded with a confidante who extorted companies and manipulated state affairs. South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.3 percent to 2,024.69, closing as the vote was underway.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.2 percent to 18,996.37 as the yen weakened against the dollar. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 percent to 3,232.88. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.3 percent to 5,560.60. Indexes in most Southeast Asian countries also rose but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.4 percent to 22,760.98 and India’s Sensex was up 0.3 percent at 26,778.58.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 40 cents to $51.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.07 in the previous session. Brent crude, the international standard, added 22 cents to $54.11 a barrel in London. It rose 89 cents on Thursday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 115.09 yen from 114.20 yen. The euro fell to $1.0561 from $1.0603.