Prospect of more ECB stimulus lifts European shares

Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:14pm EDT

* Euro STOXX 50 closes up 2.2 pct at 3,165.47 points

* Draghi comments raise expectations of more easing

* Draghi offsets negative pressure from weak Ifo number

* CAC rises 2.1 pct in spite of French govt resignation

* London stock market closed for public holiday

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Monday, as prospects of new stimulus measures from the European Central Bank enabled the region's stock markets to shrug off weak German data and the resignation of the French government.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, speaking at a global central banking conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said late on Friday that the ECB was prepared to respond with all its "available" tools should inflation drop further.

Draghi's comments helped offset negative pressures from weak German Ifo economic data on Monday, which showed that German business sentiment dropped for a fourth straight month in August, and from the French government's resignation.

"The stock markets are evaluating the prospect of possible monetary easing from the ECB as more important than the disappointing Ifo figures and French political troubles," said Carlo Alberto de Casa, senior market analyst at ActivTrades.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index closed up by 2.2 percent at 3,165.47 points.

Germany's DAX - which remains down by around 5.4 percent from an all-time high of 10,050.98 points set in late June - also rose 1.8 percent to 9,510.14 points.

The London stock market was closed for a public holiday.

FRENCH POLITICAL PRESSURES

French President Francois Hollande asked his prime minister on Monday to form a new government, looking to impose his will on the cabinet after rebel leftist ministers had called for an economic policy U-turn.

Nevertheless, France's CAC finished 2.1 percent higher, with some investors saying that a stronger and more unified French government might emerge that was more committed to President Hollande's deficit-cutting measures that have been aimed at strengthening the sluggish French economy.

"The new government should be more unified. Hollande has shown he will not change course," said Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Swiss bank Reyl.

Savary said he would not buy equities at current levels, pointing to recent weak European economic data.

However, AXA Investment Managers' chief strategist Franz Wenzel said Draghi's position remained supportive for the region's stock markets.

"The key message is that Draghi stands ready for more action if needed. Whether they're going to do quantitative easing remains to be seen, but we're fairly confident that the financial engineers at the ECB will find other tools," said Wenzel.

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today's European research round-up (Additional reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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