World shares hover near all-time high

ECB’s pledge on interest rates provides boost

By Marc Jones (Reuters)

Published: Wed 28 May 2014, 11:49 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 4:51 AM

World shares were just shy of a record and the euro was being squeezed on Tuesday, on expectations the European Central Bank will extend more than five years of easy monetary policy when it meets next week.

US markets were set to catch up when they reopen after Monday’s holidays. Futures prices point to 0.4 to 0.5 per cent gains for Wall Street that would also nudge MSCI’s all-world share index close to its 2007 record high.

Asset markets remain supported by record-low interest rates in the world’s big economies as they recover from the financial crisis.

ECB chief Mario Draghi on Monday bolstered the view that the bank will cut eurozone interest rates again next week. Other policymakers drove home the message on Tuesday.

The ECB has discussed “a situation where inflation rates are so low that there is a danger of economic growth being held back,” Austrian ECB policymaker Ewald Nowotny said. “We will discuss which measures we can take here.”

British markets were also closed on Monday, and on Tuesday Britain’s FTSE 100 led the way in Europe. It rose 0.3 per cent, compared with a 0.2 per cent higher but record-high DAX and 0.1 per cent lower CAC40 in France.

The likelihood of lower rates also helped eurozone bonds from Germany to Italy, Spain and Greece. The euro came under pressure again as it dipped to $1.3625.

Interest rates on benchmark 10-year German Bunds hovered at 1.358 per cent. Italian bonds consolidated gains from Monday after Italy’s government scored a surprisingly easy win in European Parliament elections over the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

The euro’s early afternoon slump helped the dollar recover from a 0.2 per cent loss against a basket of currencies earlier after another retreat in US bond yields.

Stronger-than-expected durable goods data helped the greenback. Sterling sank as much as 0.4 per cent against the dollar and euro as soft lending data in Britain added to concerns over a European election win for the anti-EU UKIP party.

Asian trading had been largely timid, although Japan’s Nikkei and shares in China saw another solid session.

The escalation was tempered by a decisive win for billionaire Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine’s weekend presidential election, which many hope will stabilise the situation.

In commodities trading, three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange edged to its highest in nearly three months as markets reopened after a holiday weekend.

US crude futures were flat at $104.27 a barrel. Spot gold was roughly $16 an ounce lower at $1,276.65.

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