European shares at fresh one-year peak after dovish ECB signal

Euro zone stock index trades at 2007 highs

New York Stock Exchange traders. Photograph: Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP

New York Stock Exchange traders. Photograph: Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP


European stocks hit their highest level in a year on Thursday as worries about a spike in inflation eased and the European Central Bank said it was ready to accelerate money-printing to keep a lid on euro zone borrowing costs.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose for a fourth straight session, adding 0.5 per cent to the previous day’s gains sparked by tame inflation data and the US Congress approving one of the largest economic stimulus measures in history. A narrower index of euro zone blue-chip stocks gained 0.7 per cent to trade at its highest level in more than 13 years.


Bank of Ireland climbed again, this time by 1.5 per cent to an annual high of €3.90, amid speculation it may step in and acquire troubled stockbroker Davy, which has been mired in a financial scandal. Rival AIB, which owns rival stockbroker Goodbody, rose 3.2 per cent to €2.07 as more dovish sentiment from Frankfurt boosted bank stocks generally.

Rising oil prices haven’t helped Ryanair but the airline has been boosted by a more positive outlook for travel stocks generally. It traded broadly flat on the day at €16.50.

Cairn Homes and Glenveagh both traded up, by 1.7 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively, amid speculation that the Government may ease the current restrictions on construction next month.

Paddypower Betfair owner Flutter traded up 5.4 per cent at €184.30. The company’s latest annual report shows bonuses for top executives at the group more than trebled to £11.7 million (€13.7 million) last year.


British shares ended higher as firmer commodity prices boosted mining and energy stocks, while HSBC traded ex-dividend and AstraZeneca sank on doubts over its Covid-19 vaccine. The blue-chip Ftse 100 index ended up 0.2 per cent, with mining stocks including Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP Group gaining 1.8-4.6 per cent.

Oil heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell were also among the biggest boosts to the Ftse 100, as crude prices rose. HSBC Holdings, which traded ex-dividend, was the worst performer in the index, while AstraZeneca fell 2.5 per cent after health authorities in Italy, Denmark and Norway temporarily suspended the use of the drug maker’s Covid-19 vaccines on reports of blood clots and death.


European stock markets are on course for strong weekly gains on hopes that massive stimulus measures and vaccination programmes will spur a recovery in the global economy, while calmer bond markets boosted appetite for riskier assets such as equities.

France’s state-controlled power group EDF jumped 10.9 per cent after finance minister Bruno Le Maire told local TV that there would be no break-up of the company as negotiations between Paris and Brussels over an overhaul of the company entered a final stage.

German fashion house Hugo Boss was down 3.6 per cent after saying it expected coronavirus restrictions to keep weighing on its business in the first quarter, and German chemicals maker Lanxess fell 4.8 per cent after a disappointing 2021 earnings outlook.


The S&P 500 and the Dow indexes hit all-time highs in early trading as worries about rising inflation subsided, while a bigger-than-expected fall in weekly jobless claims reinforced expectations of a labour market recovery.

Mega-cap stocks Apple , Microsoft, Facebook and Tesla gained 2.2-3.6 per cent, recouping losses from a recent pullback and helping the benchmark S&P 500 surpass its February 16th peak of 3,950.43.

The blue-chip Dow hit an all-time high for the fourth straight session, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq is now about 5 per cent below its February 12th record close after slumping as much as 12 per cent from that level last week.