* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.1 percent
* German Ifo below expectations, fuels rate cut hopes
* Standard Life surges on asset inflows
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, April 24 European shares rose on
Wednesday, extending the previous session's hefty gains after a
weak German Ifo survey added to expectations that the European
Central Bank could cut interest rates next week.
The FTSEurofirst 300 was up 0.1 percent at 1,184.33
by 1045 GMT, having hit a high of 1,188.56 shortly after the
The index had jumped 2.4 percent on Tuesday - its biggest
gain since August 2012 - after other German data fuelled hopes
of an ECB rate cut.
Loose monetary policy has been a key driver for stocks this
year, with the FTSEurofirst 300 having reached 2008 highs
mid-March. It has since tailed off, trading about 2 percent shy
of the 2013 peak, but strategists see scope for it to bounce
"This is something that we have to get used to - that the
liquidity backdrop is dominating growth concerns," said Ian
Richards, head of equity strategy at Exane BNP Paribas.
"It's quite clearly the dominant driver of share prices
today - and yesterday - and potentially for the next quarter,"
he said, deeming it likely that European equities will advance
beyond the year highs.
Germany's Ifo survey fell for a second consecutive month in
April, signalling that Europe's largest economy is struggling to
pull away from a contraction at the end of last year due to
weakness in both its euro zone and Chinese export markets.
The ECB meets next week, and there is growing speculation
that a slew of weak economic data and subdued inflation will
persuade it to cut rates.
Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index, meanwhile, said
that although people are hopeful of a rate cut, they "are
thinking... it's not really going to kick-start the European
economy in any meaningful way".
ING, which also noted that a rate cut would not transform
the economy, highlighted that it "and more non-standard
measures" would weaken the euro exchange rate, which could prove
helpful to German exporters.
Good examples include engineering conglomerate Siemens
and chipmaker Infineon.
Earnings newsflow also supported the market on Wednesday.
British insurer Standard Life led gainers, up 6.8
percent, as it saw the net flow of new money it administers more
than double in the first quarter from a year earlier.
Of the 14 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies
that have reported first-quarter results so far, about 51
percent have met or beaten analysts' forecasts, according to
Thomson Reuters StarMine Data.
The earnings season in the United States has got off to a
stronger start, with 74 percent of S&P 500 companies
meeting or beating expectations so far.