Global markets bounced back overnight, with all major indices closing in the green. European stocks rose to a seven-week high as the European Central Bank lowered its benchmark interest rate, while companies from Royal Dutch Shell to BMW posted profit that beat analysts’ estimates.
The ECB cut its key interest rate to a record low. Central bankers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia lowered the main refinancing rate to 0.5% from 0.75%, a move predicted by 45 of 70 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.
The ECB left its deposit rate at zero and reduced its marginal lending rate to 1% from 1.5%. Stateside, U.S. stocks rose sending the S&P 500 to a record high, as American jobless claims unexpectedly fell.
The S&P 500 rose 0.9% to 1,598 in New York, erasing yesterday’s drop. The Dow gained 131 points (+0.9%) to 14,832. About 6 billion shares traded hands on U.S. exchanges, 4.7% below the three-month average.
The number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly dropped to the lowest level in more than five years, according to Labor Department figures. Other data showed the productivity of U.S. workers rose in the first quarter as companies focused on containing labor expenses.
Crude gained the most in almost six months as the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits slipped and the ECB reduced interest rates to a record low. WTI for June delivery rose $2.96 (+3.3%) to settle at $93.99 a barrel on the NYMEX, the biggest one-day increase since November 6.
The euro fell for the first time in five days against the dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said policy makers may take the unprecedented step of charging banks to hold excess reserves.
In company news, Westpac has reported a 10% rise in 1H13 cash profit to $3.5 billion and has announced a special dividend of 10 cents. Today’s session will bring us data in the form of the latest producer price index reading, at 11:30am, AEST.