Stocks rise on Ukraine diplomacy, ECB easing speculation

Thu Mar 6, 2014 7:34am EST
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By Nigel Stephenson and Blaise Robinson

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - World shares rose on Thursday, supported by diplomatic efforts to cool the crisis in Ukraine, while the euro held steady on speculation the ECB could take fresh action to support the euro zone economy.

The European Central Bank is expected to keep interest rates on hold but loosen lending conditions to ward off the threat of excessively low inflation and underpin a fragile recovery.

The Bank of England, also meeting on Thursday, kept interest rates unchanged, seeking to give the economy more time to build momentum before removing its stimulus.

European shares climbed, led by peripheral euro zone markets such as Portugal, Spain and Italy, with the region's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 .STOXX50E index gaining 0.6 percent.

The index, up 3.3 percent in three days, has now reversed all the losses suffered on Monday when escalating East-West tensions over Ukraine sparked a sharp sell-off.

"European stocks have been quite resilient in the face of the multiple shocks, from the Fed's tapering to the Ukrainian crisis, even though risks seem limited," Banque Leonardo strategist Francois Chevallier said.

The euro held steady against the dollar, having earlier slipped to its lowest this month.

Emerging stocks and currencies were broadly higher as diplomatic talks to moderate the crisis in Ukraine were set to continue, having made little apparent progress on Wednesday.   Continued...

Pedestrians walk past an electronic board showing various stock prices, which are reflected in a polished stone surface, outside a brokerage in Tokyo January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino