Shares near all-time highs before ECB update

European Central Bank is set to flesh out aggressive easing plans announced last month

The European Central Bank is set to flesh out aggressive easing plans announced last month. Photo: Bloomberg

The European Central Bank is set to flesh out aggressive easing plans announced last month. Photo: Bloomberg

Thu, Jul 3, 2014, 09:44

World shares edged up on Thursday, hovering just below all-time highs as markets prepared for a double-header of a European Central Bank policy update and US jobs data after a busy week.

Investors were subdued before the two events, both due at 12.30 GMT, with stocks, benchmark bonds and the euro and dollar barely budging after an equally cautious day in Asia.

The ECB is set to flesh out the aggressive easing plans it announced last month, while bets for a strong non-farm payrolls number were given a boost on Wednesday as US private-sector hiring hit a 1-1/2-year high.

“The main thing today will be the non-farm payrolls,” said Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen, head of multi-asset funds at ING investment management.”

“Draghi will be doing his best to make the ECB meeting a non-event, but after all the strong US data this week, the ADP, ISM, the car sales data, this could be the thing that finally convinces markets that they can’t ignore it anymore.”

With many of the world’s big economies gradually improving and major central banks including the ECB and the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates at record lows, markets are enjoying near-optimum conditions.

European stocks inched up 0.1 percent in early deals as MSCI’s All World index, which covers 45 countries, eyed record highs.

The improving outlook for global growth spread its influence widely.

The dollar was also up, copper on the London Metal Exchange hit its highest level since late February, while safe-haven gold was out of favour again after its recent gains.

“People were saying, ‘What is cheap in the world?’ They figured out the (growth sensitive) metals were cheap and if things accelerated a little bit, why not take a position?” said analyst Dominic Schnider of UBS Wealth Management in Singapore.

Reuters