Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Europe

World Stocks, Euro Soar on EU's $1 Trillion Rescue

LONDON -- World stock markets and the euro soared Monday as investors cheered the European Union's $1 trillion plan to defend the embattled 16-country currency and keep a spreading debt crisis from damaging the global economic recovery.

After last week suffering some of the biggest losses since the height of the financial crisis in 2008, European markets rebounded decisively. The euro jumped above $1.3071, after wallowing at a 14-month low of $1.2523 on Friday.

Britain's FTSE 100 index rose 4.1 percent to 5,350.05, Germany's DAX gained 3.9 percent while the CAC-40 in France soared 6.7 percent.

Wall Street was also expected to jump higher on the open -- Dow futures were up 3.5 percent at 10,694 and Standard & Poor's futures were 4.6 percent higher at 1,158.30.

Crucially, borrowing costs for debt-laden countries plummeted. The difference between yields on Greek 10-year bonds and their benchmark German equivalents was at 4.84 percentage points on Monday, down massively from a record 10.25 points last week.

In a three-year plan, the European Commission will make euro60 billion ($75 billion) available for loans and guarantees to indebted European countries. The 16-nation eurozone promised backing for another euro440 billion ($570 billion), should it be necessary, and the International Monetary Fund would contribute an additional sum of at least half of the EU's total contribution, or euro250 billion.

In addition, the European Central Bank announced what analysts called its "nuclear option" -- buying public and private bonds to lower borrowing costs and increase liquidity. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve reopened its dollar swap operations, in which it offers billions of dollars overseas to boost banks' cash positions in return for foreign currency. Other central banks, including the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the ECB, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank, are also involved in the effort.

"This is shock and awe, Part II and in 3-D, with a much bigger budget and a more impressive array of special effects," said Marco Annunziata, chief economist at UniCredit Group in London.

"This truly is overwhelming force, and should be more than sufficient to stabilize markets in the near term, prevent panic and contain the risk of contagion," he said.

Market sentiment turned sour last week as a euro110 billion ($142 billion) loan package for Greece failed to calm investors, who feared Europe's response was too little and too late to keep confidence in the euro from deteriorating and potentially collapsing.

Markets realized that the draconion austerity measures demanded by Greece's bailout are likely to keep the country in recession, if not depression, for years and complicate paying down heavy debt loads. The images of violent protests in Athens and the prospect that such mayhem could spread to other European countries -- such as Portugal and Spain, where borrowing costs were rising ominously -- and derail the global recovery caused investors to fear the worst.

On Thursday, a combination of fear and technical glitches contributed to a temporary 1,000-point drop in the Dow, a reminder of the fragility of international markets.

The fears of an imminent collapse in the euro have now been answered, analysts say.

However, question marks still hover over the future -- whether countries will have the ability to carry through with debt-reducing cuts and how far their economic recoveries will be hampered by austerity cuts. Rather than a collapse, eurozone countries may be in for a long, drawn-out era of economic pain.

Furthermore, should markets sense that the bailout is covering up some countries' failure to act on their debt, more speculative attacks could take place.

"The bond market vigilantes are still hungry, they smell blood," said David Cohen, an economist with Action Economics in Singapore. "This package is trying to short circuit that process but it could be like the 1997-1998 Asian crisis where countries were attacked one by one."

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average rose 1.6 percent to 10,530.71 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 2.5 percent to 20,426.64.

The dollar rose to 93.38 yen from 92.37 yen late Friday.

Benchmark crude for June delivery was up $3.04 to $78.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The June contract fell $2 to settle at $75.11 on Friday.