Global stocks firmer as investors eye corporate news, ECB meet


The dollar climbed against rivals Monday, helping to push up European and Japanese stock markets, while share prices in the US moved modestly higher at the start of a heavy week of corporate earnings report and a much-anticipated European Central Bank meeting.

Key earnings reports were expected from many of the biggest US companies, including Google parent Alphabet (Xetra: ABEA.DE - news) , ExxonMobil, McDonald's and Boeing (NYSE: BA - news) .

Earnings growth has been generally solid through the early part of the reporting season, with few companies reporting a significant hit from the US hurricanes.

Investor (LSE: 0NC5.L - news) attention was also focussing on the ECB's policy-setting meeting on Thursday, at which the central bank is expected to announce a scaling back of its easy money policies that have provided support to the eurozone economy in recent years.

Earlier in Asia, Tokyo's main stocks index extended its longest winning streak in its nearly 70-year history on the re-election of Shinzo Abe as prime minister.

"While the political backdrop in Japan looks much more stable than it has in years the backdrop in Europe continues to be fraught with risk," said Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in particular reference to "the crisis in Catalonia".

The positive tone in global markets had been set by Wall Street on Friday when US markets powered to all-time highs after senators voted for a federal budget plan that permits them to introduce Trump's planned tax cuts with a simple majority vote instead of a 60-40 majority.

While there is a long way to go for the proposals to be implemented, the news provided a boost to already optimistic investors.

Expectations that Trump's tax cuts and big spending plans would boost the economy helped drive a months-long global markets rally that began after his November election. However, a series of White House crises and legislative setbacks pared those gains.

- Rate rises -

Forex traders, betting the cuts will fan inflation and in turn lead to further US interest rate rises, pushed the dollar higher Monday.

"The budget clears a hurdle to the much anticipated Trump tax cuts, which in turn are expected to both improve the US economic and earnings outlook while at the same time strengthening hawks at the Fed's hand to pursue at least four rate hikes in the next 14 months," said Greg McKenna, market strategist at AxiTrader.

In Europe on Monday, stock markets pushed higher with the exception of Madrid.

And the euro struggled with the fallout from Spain's Catalonia crisis after the national government imposed direct rule on the region following a controversial independence vote.

Meanwhile in Japan, Abe's resounding victory in the weekend's general election, which gives him a mandate to press on with his easy money, big-spending "Abenomics" programme to kickstart the Japanese economy.

Tokyo's traders welcomed the latest developments, sending the Nikkei surging 1.1 percent -- a record 15th straight gain -- with the index helped also by a weaker yen boosting shares in exporters.

- Key figures around 1540 GMT -

New York - DOW: UP 0.1 percent at 23,342.44 points

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.02 percent at 7,524.45 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.1 percent at 13,003.14 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,386.81 (close)

Madrid - IBEX 35: DOWN 0.6 percent at 10,157.30

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,608.87 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 21,696.65 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.6 percent at 28,305.88 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,380.70 (close)

Euro/dollar: FLAT at $1.1744

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3183 from $1.3188

Dollar/yen: FLAT at 113.74 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 26 cents at $57.49 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN six cents at $51.78