Stocks bounce near record levels

Business | 22 Jul 2021 4:15 pm

Stocks returned to near record highs in Europe on Thursday as investors bet on the European Central Bank keeping its stimulus taps full open as long as the coronavirus  remains a threat to growth, Reuters reports.

A revived appetite for riskier assets came as worries that the Delta variant would seriously crimp economic recovery, eased.

The STOXX index of 600 leading European shares was up 0.6 percent at 456.53 points, back within striking distance of its lifetime high of 461.38 points reached last week.

Among the standouts, shares in consumer goods giant Unilever sank by 4.4 percent after it warned that surging commodity costs would squeeze its full-year operating margin, overshadowing solid second-quarter sales growth. Investor focus was firmly on the ECB in Frankfurt.

"The ECB is going to do precisely what the market expects," said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.

"In light of recent events in western Europe, the flooding, the last thing that Europe needs at the moment is a tightening of monetary policy," Hewson said in reference to last week's devastating floods in Germany and Belgium that killed over 180 people.

Italian borrowing costs sank to their lowest in over three months ahead of the ECB meeting, whose outcome is due at 1145 GMT, followed by a news conference with its president Christine Lagarde at 1230 GMT.

 



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