LONDON May 15 European stocks followed Asia
higher on Thursday while the euro fell as investors bet central
banks in developed markets would continue their monetary
support, with the European Central Bank poised to cut interest
rates next month.
Emerging stocks were the biggest winners from expectations
for more stimulus, hitting a 6-1/2 month high, while
stronger-than-expected German first-quarter economic growth data
pushed the benchmark German bond yield off one-year lows.
ECB President Mario Draghi signalled last week that the bank
was poised to ease monetary policy next month to support the
economy. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said the U.S.
economy needed support, while expectations have been growing
China might unveil stimulus.
"There's a good chance we will see a small positive surprise
in euro zone (growth) numbers," said Jan von Gerich, chief fixed
income analyst at Nordea. "But I don't think we will see a big
back-up in yields with ECB easing in the pipeline."
European stocks rose 0.2 percent, having hit a
six-year peak, while Germany's DAX set a new record
high. Asian stocks also rose a quarter percent.
The MSCI world equity index rose slightly on
the day, dragged lower by declines in Tokyo and Shanghai shares.
Emerging stocks rose a quarter percent, bringing
year-to-date gains to 3.8 percent.
The euro fell nearly 0.2 percent to $1.3690, off last
week's 2-1/2 year high. German 10-year Bund yields
traded at 1.38 percent.
Sources told Reuters the ECB is preparing a package of
policy options for its June meeting, including cuts in all its
interest rates and targeted measures aimed at boosting lending
to small and mid-sized firms.
"Except for quantitative easing, which it likely won't
resort to for a while, the ECB does not have a lot of easing
options at its disposal to keep the euro down," said Masafumi
Yamamoto, market strategist at Praevidentia Strategy in Tokyo.
"Therefore it will have to keep sending a steady message,
saying it will ease a step at a time. The various ECB officials
will also have to march in unison and convey the same message,
especially with the dollar also showing signs of weakness."
U.S. crude oil and Brent crude futures both
fell. The dollar rose 0.15 percent against a basket of six major
(Additional reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by John