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Capital markets

US central bank stimulus lifts world stock markets

Euphoria about the US Federal Reserve Bank's new stimulus plan has prompted a global equities rally, sending gold and commodities prices to new highs. The euro also surged, as the US dollar slumped.

European shares jumped to a 14-month high in trading on Friday, with Germany's DAX stock market index as well as France's CAC 40 and London's FTSE 100 all in positive territory, helping to lift the MSCI index of global stocks to its highest level in 6 months.

Overnight, stock markets in Asia had already rallied dramatically with shares in Hong Kong and Tokyo skyrocketing a staggering 2.9 percent and 1.83 percent respectively.

On Wall Street in the United States on Thursday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index surged to its highest close since 2007.

The upbeat mood was created by the US Federal Reserve Bank's decision to pump $40 billion (30.6 billion euros) into the ailing US economy each month until the weak US labor market picks up.

The move added to positive market sentiment prompted by the European Central Bank, which announced last week it would buy the bonds of struggling eurozone members in efforts to bring down their borrowing costs.

In bond markets on Friday, the yields of 10-year Italian debt fell below 5 percent for the first time since March, while Spanish yields dropped 3.5 basis points to 5.64 percent.

Neal Gilbert, currency strategist at GFT Forex, told the news agency Reuters that decisions made in Europe and the US - coupled with an expected stimulus package in China - could be creating "a bull market for at least the near term."

On Friday, the euro climbed above $1.30 - a technically and psychologically important threshold.

At the same time, the US dollar index, which is measured against a basket of global currencies, dropped to its lowest level in four months, as markets equate the Federal Reserve Bank's stimulus package with printing money and rising inflation, reducing the value of a currency.

uhe/jlw (Reuters, dpa, AFP)