European stock markets rise before ECB, BoE meets

Ben Perry

European stock markets rose on Monday as investors welcomed predictions that the European Central Bank and Bank of England will sit on their hands and keep policy unchanged at meetings this week.

The ECB will present its latest decisions over stimulus and interest rates on Thursday, the same day that new BoE governor Mark Carney from Canada will preside for the first time over a session of the monetary policy board.

Markets brushed aside news of record high unemployment in the eurozone and more weak Chinese economic data, while gold prices rebounded from the lowest levels since August 2010.

In company activity, German engineering giant Siemens (TLO: SIE.TI - news) drew a line under its joint venture with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia (Stockholm: NOKI-SEK.ST - news) , while British publisher Pearson (NYSE: PSO - news) and German peer Bertelsmann said they had completed a deal to create new publishing giant Penguin Random House.

Approaching midday in London, the FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) index of leading shares was up 0.92 percent at 6,272.65 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 (Xetra: ^GDAXI - news) grew 0.44 percent to 7,994.28 points and in Paris the CAC 40 (Paris: ^FCHI - news) gained 0.74 percent to 3,766.59.

"The Bank of England's new governor Mark Carney picked a good day to take the helm as the UK continued its strong run with the PMI (manufacturing) number coming in at 52.5 versus the 51.5 consensus," said Brenda Kelly, senior market strategist at traders IG (LSE: IGG.L - news) .

Manufacturing output surged to a 25-month high, above the 50 mark which separates growth from contraction, the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed.

In foreign exchange trade, sterling was flat against the euro but higher versus the dollar. The European single currency meanwhile rose to $1.3041 from $1.3013 late in New York on Friday.

The dollar grew to 99.58 yen from 99.11 yen on Friday.

On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold gained to $1,242.41 an ounce from $1,192 late on Friday. Gold last week hit a near three-year low point at $1,180.50 an ounce.

The precious metal, seen as a safe haven amid economic strains, has been battered by receding worries about higher inflation, upbeat US data, a strong dollar and expectations of an end to the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing (QE) stimulus.

Gold lost a quarter of its value in the second quarter, which ended on Friday. That is the heaviest quarterly loss since the early 1970s.

In London, Carney officially began his job as governor of the Bank of England, joining an institution divided on whether to pump out more cash stimulus to boost Britain's fragile economic recovery.

Carney, who made his name as head of the Bank of Canada where he helped to guide the nation's economy through the global financial crisis, is replacing Mervyn King who led the BoE since 2003.

"Despite the recent improvement in the (British) economic data, there is still a strong case for the new governor Mark Carney to give the economy additional support in order to boost the chances of the recovery becoming entrenched," said analysts at the Capital Economics research group.

"He might even announce something at his first meeting this Thursday, although we think it more likely that he waits until August's meeting to announce forward guidance and possibly more quantitative easing," they added in a note to clients.

In company activity on Monday, shares in Siemens jumped 2.69 percent to 79.74 euros after the German engineering giant pulled out of its joint venture with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia, selling its 50-percent stake in Nokia Siemens Networks for 1.7 billion euros ($2.2 billion).

Nokia shares, which have fallen sharply in recent times, reflecting a decline of Nokia's once-dominant position in making mobile phones, jumped 7.66 percent to 3.0 euros.

Shares in Peugeot (Paris: FR0000121501 - news) shed 2.15 percent to 6.19 euros as the French carmaker saw new vehicle sales decline sharply in June compared with a year earlier. Rival Renault gained 1.74 percent to 52.60 euros after suffering a smaller drop in sales.

Asian stock markets closed mixed on Monday as another set of weak manufacturing data out of China offset a positive Japanese business confidence survey, traders said.

Tokyo rose 1.28 percent to 13,852.50 points, thanks to a surge in the Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan report, which in turn boosted the dollar against the yen as dealers sought higher-risk investments.