Euro surges on European Central Bank tapering hopes; sterling jumps

Global Markets Stocks resume ascent on earnings hopes euro gets lift from ECB

The release of last month's meeting minutes of the European Central Bank (ECB) and weekly jobless claims in the US helped lift gold prices on Thursday at the expense of the dollar. Further signs of progress in negotiations will likely support Euro trade.

The euro's leap took it as high as 1.2128, the pound was up 0.7 percent at $1.3636 while the franc enjoyed the view from a three-month high of 97.85 cents per dollar.

The dollar then rallied and was up as much as 0.4 percent before slipping back to trade 0.2 percent up at 111.69 yen.

The minutes showed that with the euro zone seeing its best growth in a decade, European Central Bank policy mkaers were considering a gradual shift in its stance to reduce the focus on bond purchases and raise the emphasis on interest rates.

The dollar was also pressured by data on Thursday that showed USA producer prices fell for the first time in almost 1-1/2 years in December, which could temper expectations that inflation will accelerate in 2018.

Investors would probably take a policy message change as a sign that rate-setters may begin to wind down their 2.55-trillion-euro bond-buying program.

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Investors warned that while rising oil prices were supportive, they could weigh negatively especially on crude-consuming regions.

"The market is very cautious about the Bank of Japan's policy changes, but it is not expected that they will change their policies any time soon, since CPI is still lower than 1 percent", said Harumi Taguchi, principal economist at IHS Markit in Tokyo. The strength comes as a major relief since household spending has been a weak spot in the economy as consumers struggle with sluggish wage growth and record debt levels.

The coalition news sent the euro surging above $1.21 against the dollar for the first time since January 2015.

Treasury yields fell on Thursday after China disputed a report that its government officials had recommended the country slow or halt its purchases of US bonds.

In the USA, the Labor Department reported that weekly jobless claims rose by 11,000 to 261,000 new claims, a three-month high.

The S&P 500 rose 0.7 percent to 2,786.12 at 4 NY.

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The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.3 percent to cap a gain in the the five days.

The central bank left monetary policy unchanged at the mid-December meeting, but previously announced it would slow down its monthly purchases of bonds from €60bn to €30bn - an acknowledgement that less stimulus was needed. This is the largest and most important piece of economic data from the United States after the employment report and hence, this should bring in a lot of volatility. Industrial output climbed 1 percent month-on-month, following October's 0.4 percent increase.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2 percent, following two straight sessions of decline.

But growth is into its fifth year, employment is at a record high and convergence between the 19-member currency bloc's core and periphery has restarted, all pointing to unabated growth and a declining need for central bank help.

Brent has gained 5 percent since the beginning of the year, picking up from its late-year surge.

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