By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
Banks led European stock markets higher on Thursday, as central banks across the globe loosen monetary policy while making it easier for lenders to obtain short-term financing.
After European markets closed on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates and Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed would just temporary open market operations to cap overnight interest rates for the foreseeable future. The Swiss National Bank on Thursday held interest rates at -0.75% and made a change that would make parking reserves at the central bank less costly for banks.
The European Central Bank took a similar step last week. Even the one central bank that hiked rates, the Norges Bank of Norway, cut its view of how high interest rates will go in the future. No change from the Bank of England is expected when the latest interest rate decision is announced at 7 a.m. Eastern, or noon local time.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +0.34% added 0.35% to 390.76, with gains for lenders including the Bank of Ireland /zigman2/quotes/204220078/delayed IE:BIRG +0.10% , Commerzbank /zigman2/quotes/200193353/delayed DE:CBK -0.89% and Bankia /zigman2/quotes/205465641/delayed ES:BKIA +1.57% .
The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.29% added 0.24% to 12419.31, the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.27% gained 0.42% to 5644.34 and the U.K. FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.33% increased 0.24% to 7331.34.
Of other companies in the spotlight, U.K. retailer Next /zigman2/quotes/200704121/delayed UK:NXT +0.48% fell over 4% after holding its outlook for the year for 0.3% pretax profit growth. First-half pretax profit rose 2.7% on 3.7% sales growth.
IG Group /zigman2/quotes/204134958/delayed UK:IGG +1.86% rallied nearly 9% as the U.K.-based trading platform said fiscal first-quarter revenue was flat and that the business “performed well” as it grew active clients and client trading activity.
Spectris, maker of scientific instruments /zigman2/quotes/204153035/delayed UK:SXS +1.54% rose 5% after reaching a deal to sell its BTG Group, a provider of services to the paper industry, to Voith GmbH for €319 million.