LONDON (Reuters) - The euro and European shares rose on Thursday after the European Central Bank cut rates to an all-time low and investors waited to see whether it has plans for additional, less conventional support.
The cut was the ECB’s first move in 10 months and took its main rate down to 0.5 percent from 0.75 percent.
It came as fresh data showed that euro zone manufacturing continued to deteriorate last month.
To avoid the complication of charging banks who have spare cash in the system, it left its deposit rate, which has become a truer reflection of its policy stance since it flooded markets with ultra-cheap cash, unchanged at zero, rather than negative.
European shares .FTEU3 and the euro both rose, while benchmark German bonds fell after the cut, but as the initial impact wore off attention turned to ECB chief Mario Draghi’s post-meeting news conference at 8:30 a.m. ET to see what else, if anything, the central bank has up its sleeve.
“In our view, the balance of risks is tilted towards uncomfortably low inflation and the ECB should take further steps going forward to ease financial conditions,” said ABN Amro economist Nick Kounis.
“In today’s press conference, we think Mr. Draghi will hold out the prospect of an announcement about a scheme to help to ease financing conditions for SMEs (small and medium sized firms) as soon as the June meeting.”
U.S. stock index futures added to gains after the ECB move, pointing to another firm start on Wall Street after this week’s record highs for the S&P 500.
With most other major central banks aggressively pumping stimulus into their economies, investors suspect the ECB could fall behind the curve unless it comes up with additional support.
That assessment has been pushing up the euro over the last month while European shares have underperformed their peers in both Japan and the United States.
By 8:15 a.m. ET, the euro was back above $1.32 at a new two month high. Top European shares on the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 were also back in positive territory having spent most of the morning in the red.
London’s FTSE 100 .FTSE was flat but Paris’s CAC-40 .FCHI and Frankfurt’s DAX .GDAXI were up 0.2 and 0.4 percent respectively.
Fresh data from the euro zone had supported the need for a cut, as manufacturing PMI numbers showed France, Italy and Spain all saw continued falls in production last month.
“There is nothing here to suggest that manufacturing will turn the corner and stabilize any time soon, putting greater onus on policymakers to act quickly to reinvigorate growth,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at survey collator Markit.
Weak manufacturing data out of China overnight had already reinforced doubts over the health of the global economy as did weaker-than-expected ADP jobs figures from the U.S. in the previous session.
The HSBC China Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to 50.4 in April from March’s 51.6 and a tad below a flash reading of 50.5, as new export orders fell for the first time this year.
That had weighed on Australia’s shares and currency while also hitting Chinese shares and oil and copper prices although commodities market were seeing a bounce as U.S. trading drew into view. <O/R><MET/L>
Oil rose back above $100 a barrel as some investors saw this week’s price slide as overdone, although ample supply and concerns about the outlook for demand due to shaky economic growth limited the rally.
In Europe’s bond markets, there was limited reaction to the ECB cut.
Demand for the already ready rock-bottom yields offered by German government bonds dipped slightly while Italian and Spanish bonds, which have been the biggest beneficiaries of ECB support, remained at their strongest levels since 2010. <GVD/EUR>
“The market reassessed the global economic environment with lower growth and slower inflation so there was some adjustment with regards to central bank policy and this is supporting both core and peripheral bonds,” said Patrick Jacq, a strategist at BNP Paribas.
“Having said that, when you see the Bund (yield) in the 1.20 (percent) area it’s becoming very expensive on a risk/return analysis ... so it makes sense to be invested in other paper, semi-core or peripherals.”
Editing by Peter Graff