World stocks, euro jump

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REUTERS

A bull and a bear styrofoam figurine.

World stock markets surged Friday, propelled by bank shares, and the euro jumped against the dollar after a key EU summit delivered surprise emergency measures to fight the eurozone debt crisis.

The Madrid and Rome markets were the biggest gainers after emergency aid to crisis-hit Spain and Italy was announced following marathon talks at a summit to save the ailing single currency.

“European equities are trading sharply higher... after intense negotiations between EU leaders lasting till early morning rather surprisingly yielded an agreement,” said ETX Capital trader Markus Huber.

“It needs to be seen however if these developments and measures are indeed enough to calm markets long-term with periphery bond yields establishing a firm downward trend or if relief is only temporary.”

In afternoon deals, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index rallied 1.81 percent to 5,592.54 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 jumped 3.48

percent to 6,363.98 points and the Paris CAC 40 spiked 4.08 percent to 3,176.08 points.

Madrid rocketed 4.02 percent and Milan 4.46 percent.

Among individual shares, Spanish bank BBVA soared 6.27 percent, French lender BNP Paribas rallied 7.11 percent and Deutsche Bank won 4.98 percent.

British banks' gains were less robust after HSBC and Barclays were ordered by the country's financial watchdog to compensate businesses for “serious failings” over the sale of complex products.

In foreign exchange deals meanwhile, the euro soared to $1.2693 from $1.2442 late in New York on Thursday.

On European bond markets, the Spanish 10-year rate fell to 6.472 percent from 6.896 percent on Thursday, with the difference between its borrowing costs and those of Germany - a key measure of market tension - falling back below five percentage points.

The yield on 10-year Italian bonds also dropped, easing to 5.866 percent compared to 6.182 percent on Thursday.

Germany's 10-year bond yield rose to 1.627 percent from 1.512 percent, while France's nudged up to 2.698 percent from 2.664 percent.

Asia stock markets closed sharply higher, with Tokyo climbing 1.50 percent, Seoul winning 1.91 percent and Sydney closing up 1.23 percent.

Wall Street surged on opening, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing 1.33 percent at 12,770.20 points in the first few minutes of trade.

The S&P 500 index gained 1.49 percent to 1,348.85 points, while the tech-rich Nasdaq jumped 1.87 percent to 2,902.82.

The accord struck in Brussels paves the way for the eurozone's 500-billion-euro ($630 billion) bailout fund to recapitalise ailing banks directly, without passing through national budgets and adding to struggling countries' debt mountains.

But this would occur only after a Europe-wide banking supervisory body is set up, with leaders aiming for that to happen at the end of the year.

It was also agreed the bailout funds would be used “in a flexible and efficient manner in order to stabilise markets,” a reference to buying countries' bonds to drive down high borrowing costs that have crippled Spain and Italy.

“This news means an advance towards a banking union and support for the financial stability of the euro, but the details still have to be decided,” said Spanish brokerage Renta 4.

“These measures together with the creation of a European banking supervisor and the advances to be made on fiscal consolidation undoubtedly mean some loss of sovereignty, which would be welcome if it finally meant taking the necessary decisions to lay the foundation for future, if not immediate, economic recovery.”

EU president Herman Van Rompuy hailed the deal as a “real breakthrough” that would calm financial markets and reshape the eurozone to prevent a recurrence of the debt crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to have dropped her insistence on recapitalisation funds to banks being channelled through governments.

EU leaders also agreed a package of measures worth some 120 billion euros they hope would bolster growth in the recession-hit bloc.

Investors had had low expectations from the summit, just one of many attempts to resolve the long-running euro debt crisis, and the deal took global markets by surprise.

“The summit is a clear success. It goes very clearly in the right direction because at last it puts in place efficient tools in the long term,” Natixis bank bond strategist Rene Defossez said.

Referring to a decision enabling the EU rescue fund EFSF and its successor the ESM to recapitalise banks directly, under conditions, he said: “This is extremely important because a bank which has to be recapitalised will no longer add to the strains on the public finances of a nation.”

Analysts at Saxo Bank commented on a decision that the ESM fund would not be a preferential creditor. This was seen as reassuring investors reluctant to buy Spanish debt for fear they would be last in line for repayment if Spain ever defaulted.

They said that this was of “capital” importance. - Sapa-AFP


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