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|The euro was holding its own in Asia after briefly plunging in response to the European Central Bank's stimulus announcement. (Photo: AFP/Philippe Huguen)|
Global markets have been buoyed this week by a growing sense that central banks are on the brink of easing monetary policy to support growth, and on Thursday the ECB did not disappoint.
It said it would restart its bond-buying quantitative easing programme to boost liquidity, provide support for struggling banks and reduce borrowing costs deeper into negative territory in a bid to kickstart lending.
The bank said it would not lift rates until inflation moved towards its goal of just under 2.0 per cent over the medium term.
The announcement, while slightly short of expectations, was broadly cheered by markets, sending equities in Europe and New York higher.
"In the end, it wasn't a big bazooka, but ECB President Mario Draghi did his level best trying to convince investors that monetary policy will remain extremely accommodative for some considerable time to come," said Gavin Friend, a senior market strategist at National Australia Bank.
The euro initially plunged below US$1.10 on the news Thursday before bouncing back and in Asia it was standing its ground.
The news also provided further hope that the Federal Reserve would cut rates at its meeting next week, even though data showed a jump in US inflation last month.
'DEAL OR NO DEAL'
Investors were given an extra fillip by a Bloomberg News report that US officials were considering an interim trade deal with China that could freeze or cancel some tariffs if Beijing agrees to commitments on intellectual property and agricultural purchases.
The report, citing five unnamed sources, comes as tensions between the two sides show signs of easing ahead of high-level talks in Washington next month.
China has said it would remove some US goods from its tariffs list - with big-ticket items including pork and soybeans also now being considered - while Trump announced a delay to some levies on Chinese imports.
"A lot of people are talking about, and I see a lot of analysts are saying: an interim deal, meaning we'll do pieces of it, the easy ones first," Bloomberg quoted Donald Trump as saying Thursday.
"But there's no easy or hard. There's a deal or there's not a deal. But it's something we would consider."
Also, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was "cautiously optimistic" about an agreement being reached, telling CNBC "we want to make meaningful progress".
Hong Kong rose 0.8 per cent in the afternoon while Tokyo ended more than one percent higher, with Sydney up 0.2 per cent and Singapore 0.5 per cent higher. Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta also rose but Wellington struggled.
Shanghai, Seoul and Taipei were closed for holidays.
London fell 0.1 percent in early trade, while Paris rose 0.1 per cent and Frankfurt was flat.
On oil markets, both main contracts extended losses after the International Energy Agency said growth in global demand was expected to remain subdued citing the trade standoff and Brexit.
- Key figures around 0720 GMT -
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 per cent at 21,988.29 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.8 per cent at 27,292.18
Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 per cent at 7,334.20
Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.1089 from US$1.1064 at 2030 GMT
Euro/pound: UP at 89.56 pence from 89.67 pence
Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.2381 from US$1.2337
Dollar/yen: DOWN at ¥108.04 from ¥108.11
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 11 cents at US$54.98 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 17 cents at US$60.21 per barrel
New York - Dow: UP 0.2 per cent at 27,182.45 (close)