Eurozone relief plan helps lift equities

Updated: 2011-10-29 08:04

By Anirban Nag (China Daily)

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LONDON - Global stocks headed for their best week in over two years on Friday, bolstered by EU leaders' efforts to contain the eurozone debt crisis which have stoked appetite for riskier assets, while the euro held just below a seven-week high.

Safe-haven debt stayed under pressure with German Bund futures extending losses as investors focused on an Italian bond auction - a key test of appetite for eurozone paper that is not rated triple A. Only last week, yields on Italian debt rose to 6.1 percent, their highest since early August.

Risk appetite was further supported by Thursday's US data showing that the world's largest economy grew at its fastest pace in a year in the third quarter, a welcome relief for investors who have been pricing in the risk of a double-dip recession.

With markets for the time being shrugging off the lack of detail in Thursday's anti-crisis measures in Europe, the region's shares extended the previous session's sharp rally.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European shares was up 0.2 percent at 1021.67 points in early trade.

The benchmark index is up 10.6 percent so far this month and is on track for its biggest monthly rise since April 2009, though it is still down 9 percent for the year.

The MSCI index was up 0.4 percent at 319.02 - hovering at its highest level in nearly three months.

"There's no sign of a let-up in the abundant confidence of traders following the outcome of the European summit," said Stan Shamu, an analyst at IG Markets.

"However there's still the debate as to just how comprehensive this current plan is and certainly any further stumbles along the path to economic recovery would reignite worries over the future of the single currency."

Eurozone leaders are now under pressure to finalize details of their plan to slash Greece's debt and strengthen the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), possibly through investment by emerging economies such as China and Brazil.

The head of the fund said on Friday that he does not expect to reach a conclusive deal with Chinese leaders during a visit to Beijing.

Investor focus is also shifting to a G20 meeting next week in Cannes, France. Edmund Shing, equity strategist at Barclays Capital, said stocks were likely to recover further next week ahead of the G20 summit on Nov 3 and 4, as investors would not want to bet against policymakers for now.

But he advised investors not to chase the market too aggressively. For the moment, investors welcomed the progress eurozone politicians were making, and were shrugging off the lack of details.

The euro edged down to $1.4155, taking a breather from a rally on Thursday which took it to a seven-week high of $1.4248. The dollar index was up 0.26 percent after falling some 1.6 percent, its biggest one-day fall since May 2009.