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Global shares turn higher as investors reassess ECB actions

SEOUL, South Korea – Global stocks rose Friday, led by Europe, as investors reassessed an unexpectedly wide array of stimulus measures announced a day earlier by the European Central Bank.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX gained 2.6 per cent to 9,748.72 and France’s CAC 40 advanced 2.6 per cent to 4,462.18. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.3 per cent to 6,113.20. Wall Street was also set to begin on a positive note with Dow futures up 0.8 per cent and S&P futures 0.9 per cent higher.

EUROPE WATCH: Stocks had initially fallen on comments by ECB chief Mario Draghi on Thursday that underscored the weakness of the 19-country eurozone economy and the desperation of monetary authorities to act. But they rebounded on Friday as investors digested the raft of measures announced. They included three interest rate cuts, loans to banks, and an expansion to a bond-buying stimulus program. Shares in banks, which will be supported by the ECB loans, were among the biggest gainers on Friday.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Running out of grenades isn’t a bad thing,” IG market strategist Evan Lucas said in a commentary, referring to the conviction among some economists that the ECB has run out of further ammunition to boost the economy. He added, “Draghi mainly met expectations and has publicly stated that rates are now going to be rooted to these level for years. Equities will ultimately win out with policy that accommodative.”

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 recovered from earlier losses, gaining 0.5 per cent to 16,938.87. South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.1 per cent to 1,971.41 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 1.1 per cent to 20,199.60. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 per cent to 5,166.40 while the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China finished up 0.2 per cent at 2,810.31. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

OIL: Crude prices rose after the International Energy Agency said “there are signs that prices might have bottomed out.” Benchmark U.S. crude added 88 cents to $38.72 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract finished 45 cents lower on Thursday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gained 68 cents at $40.73 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 113.76 yen from 113.22 yen while the euro fell to $1.1108 from $1.1178.