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Fed effect, Italy send European shares to 6-week highs

Published Jun 20, 2019 04:26AM ET
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© Reuters. The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
 
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By Amy Caren Daniel and Medha Singh

(Reuters) - Signs that Brussels will hold off on disciplinary action over Italy's budget helped European stocks hit six-week highs on Thursday, as the latest signals of potential new monetary stimulus from the world's big central banks boosted sentiment.

Milan's main index rallied 0.74% and its banking index gained 0.36% after officials said the European Commission was unlikely to recommend further steps next week in disciplinary procedures over the country's rising debt.

That was a small gesture in a process that investors worry may worsen Italy's already delicate economic and fiscal prospects, but was enough to outpace a roughly half percent rise in the pan-European STOXX 600 index.

Traders said the dominant factor, however, was the Federal Reserve's signals late on Wednesday that a cut in interest rates as soon as July may be on the way, following up on a surprisingly strong speech from European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi earlier this week that more action was possible.

Euro zone and German bond yields tumbled in response, pointing to more respite for European public and private sector borrowers, although interest rate sensitive banking stocks underperformed.

"Falling bonds yields are signaling that the monetary policy for the time being is going to be slightly more accommodative and may even be more accommodative going forward," said Florian Hense, European economist at Berenberg Bank in London.

"As we've seen inflation surprising on the downside this year, the Fed and the ECB can support expansion by cutting rates or at least signaling that it could be happening and investors like it if the message is slightly more dovish than they expected."

JUNE RECOVERY

Expectations of policy easing by the two central banks has helped drive a near 5% gain for the STOXX 600 this month, helping the main index recoup almost all of a steep sell-off that made May the worst month in more than two years.

Signs that the United States and China will return to the negotiating table over trade also bolstered sentiment, with tariff-sensitive auto and technology stocks gaining 1.1% and 1.4% respectively.

French carmaker Renault (PA:RENA) rose 1.6% after its chief executive Thierry Bollore said cutting its stake in alliance partner Nissan was not on the agenda.

London's FTSE 100 was a laggard as sterling gained against a broadly weaker dollar following the Fed's message, with a Bank of England policy statement at 1100 GMT expected to continue to point in the opposite direction on rates.

Germany's DAX hit its highest level since May 3, helped by software company SAP advancing 1.5% after arch-rival Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) forecast current-quarter profit above estimates.

German food delivery company Delivery Hero jumped 11.5%, the most among the benchmark index, after raising its full year revenue outlook by 200 million euros.

One high-profile faller was Deutsche Bank AG (DE:DBKGn), which slipped 0.5 after a report U.S. federal authorities are investigating whether the German lender complied with laws meant to stop money laundering and other crimes.

Fed effect, Italy send European shares to 6-week highs
 

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