European stock markets closed sharply higher yesterday on rising hopes for more central bank stimulus measures in Europe and the US to help kickstart global economic growth. London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 1.18% to 5,693.63 points, while in Frankfurt, the Dax 30 rallied by 1.27% to 6,774.06 points and in Paris the CAC 40 rose by 1.24% to 3,320.71 points. Madrid jumped 2.78% and Milan won 2.80%. In foreign exchange deals, the European single currency eased to $1.2244 from $1.2315 in New York late Friday. The dollar slipped to ¥78.18 from ¥78.19. “The market focus is squarely on the Fed’s policy meeting on Wednesday and a European Central Bank meeting on Thursday,” said Dick Green at Briefing.com. “Equity market participants are hoping for central bank action that will decrease economic risk, increase liquidity, and in theory therefore boost stock prices.” The Federal Reserve wraps up a two-day policy meeting tomorrow amid uncertainty over whether the US central bank will announce additional stimulus for the slowing American economy. On Wall Street in midday trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 0.16% and the Nasdaq rose 0.31%. On Thursday, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank (ECB) will unveil their latest monetary policy decisions, as both grapple with fallout from the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis. “The markets are now expecting something from central banks this week, in particular from the Federal Reserve and ECB,” said Simon Denham, head of Capital Spreads trading group. Asian markets mostly closed higher after positive leads from Wall Street and Europe on Friday and as recent comments from ECB chief Mario Draghi on saving the euro were reinforced by Germany, France and Italy at the weekend. Global shares were sent soaring on Friday after Draghi vowed that the “ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me it will be enough.” That message was reinforced later on Friday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande who vowed in a joint statement to do “everything to protect the eurozone” after telephone talks. Merkel re-iterated the pledge in a joint statement with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Sunday. Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker added in interviews published on Sunday that the eurozone had reached a crucial juncture and its leaders would work with the ECB to save the single currency. The talk helped send the rate of return on Spanish 10-year debt lower on the bond markets. In late trade, Spain’s benchmark yield fell to 6.618% from 6.744% on Friday. Last week, Spain’s yield reached a record 7.75%. In an auction yesterday, Italy’s borrowing costs on five- and 10-year bonds fell with benchmark 10-year bonds selling at 5.96%, below the key 6.0-percent threshold reflecting greater market confidence. France, whose bonds are considered a eurozone safe haven, sold 7.283bn in short term debt, some at negative interest rates, meaning investors were paying for the privilege of lending their cash. “The market is hoping that Draghi will back his words with action,” analyst Denham said on Monday. “Whilst the Fed has almost used up the bulk of its ammunition, the ECB on the other hand is still yet to really flex its muscle and so we wait with bated breath to see what they’ll come up with.” from gulf times.