ECB easing pushes European equities to 7-year high, euro sinks

Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:04am EST
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By Michael Connor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - European stocks hit seven-year highs on Friday, continuing a rally ignited by the European Central Bank's plan for massive regional economic stimuli that also knocked the euro to 11-year lows.

Wall Street mostly fell on soft corporate earnings news after the S&P 500 rallied 1.5 percent on Thursday on the ECB's $1 trillion bond-buying announcement.

The euro went into another nose-dive, hitting a low of $1.1115 in its biggest daily fall in over three years, before recovering somewhat. The euro EUR= was last off 1.3 percent at $1.1218. [FRX/]

The currency has lost more than 7 percent since the start of the year and is on track for its biggest monthly fall since the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009.

"We are in an avalanche of euro selling," said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of currency strategy at BK Asset Management in New York.

U.S. Treasury debt prices jumped as European yields touched record lows and left America's higher interest rates even more attractive to investors.

Oil prices were buoyed by hopes for a boost to global growth from the ECB's move, though the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah added to uncertainty over the plans of the world's biggest crude exporter.

The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares closed up 1.8 percent at 1,479.51 points, a seven-year high. The index rose 5.1 percent this week, its strongest week since December 2011.   Continued...

A man walks past the London Stock Exchange in the City of London October 11, 2013.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth