Europe Posts Gains; Eurogroup to Meet Again
European stock markets pushed higher Thursday, as investors took in the strong gains on Wall Street overnight but remained cautious ahead of the resumption of talks on how to fund the massive government borrowing needed to support the region’s economy through the crisis.
At 3:35 AM ET (0735 GMT), the U.K.’s FTSE index traded 3.4% higher, France’s CAC 40 was up 1.9%, while the DAX rose 2.3%. The broader based Stoxx 600 Europe index climbed 2%.
Eurozone finance ministers are set to resume their virtual gathering to debate the best way of financing the response to the Covid-19 crisis, which is set to result in a sharp expansion of budget deficits. Outside the currency union, the U.K. government has signalled it will increase direct borrowings from the Bank of England.
The Eurogroup meeting had originally started Tuesday, but disagreements persisted over the conditions for loans to hard-hit countries like Spain and Italy under the eurozone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, as well as whether to issue joint debt known as ‘coronabonds’ as part of a wider recovery plan.
In corporate news, UBS and Credit Suisse , Switzerland’s two biggest banks, said Thursday that they had decided to partially postpone the payment of their dividend for 2019 until later this year. UBS shares rose 1.9%, while Credit Suisse shares rose 4%.
Staying in the banking sector, top executives at HSBC and Standard Chartered announced they would forgo their bonuses for 2020 and donate part of their salaries to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. HSBC shares climbed 1.2% and Standard Chartered shares rose 3.5%.
The two banks said at the start of this month that they would cancel their dividends and suspend buybacks.
Elsewhere, shares in Suez rose 2.4% after the French water and water management company said it was reducing, but not suspending, its 2019 dividend.
Wall Street had closed sharply higher Wednesday amid hopes the U.S. may turn a corner in its battle against the coronavirus as early as next week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.4%, or 780 points, the S&P 500 up 3.4%, while the NASDAQ Composite added 2.6%.
The most important data of the day will be the weekly jobless claims in the U.S., at 8:30 AM ET (12:30 GMT).
Economists expect that claims eased off only a little from the previous week’s record 6.65 million to 5.25 million, according to forecasts compiled by Investing.com.
Oil prices have pushed higher Thursday, ahead of a crucial meeting where the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are expected to agree a cut to production of up to 10 million barrels per day over 90 days.
At 3:35 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 5.2% higher at $26.39 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract rose 3.1% to $33.87.
Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.4% to $1,691.30/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.0868, up 0.1%.