September 13, 2019 / 7:30 AM / 3 days ago

European stocks head for fourth week of gains post - ECB

(Reuters) - European shares ground out gains for the fourth day running on Friday as signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks propped up shares after a mixed response to stimulus from the European Central Bank a day earlier.

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, September 13, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

ECB chief Mario Draghi told governments to do more to revive an ailing euro zone economy as he cut rates deeper into negative territory and pledged indefinite monetary stimulus, tying the hands of his successor for years to come and initially driving stock markets higher.

Bank stocks .SX7E, which wavered after the decision, rose on Friday, with analysts citing the ECB’s easing of the terms of its long term loans to banks and the introduction of a tiered deposit rate as offsetting the pain of negative rates.

“By exempting a significant chunk of bank deposits from the negative deposit rate and making its offer of long-term liquidity for banks even more generous, the ECB is mitigating the impact of a negative deposit rate on bank balance sheets,” said Florian Hense, an economist at Berenberg.

“By lowering funding costs further, it can make it easier for governments to finance a modest fiscal expansion and nudge countries with some extra fiscal space to actually use it – think Germany.”

Both the pan-European STOXX 600 index and the euro zone only index .STOXXE were higher after an hour’s trade, but the gains were muted and suggested investors may have had their fill after four weeks of gains that have indexes back near levels last seen in July.

Concerns linger about the extent to which the central bank’s stimulus can boost economic growth or stop the euro zone’s biggest economy from slipping into recession. The Ifo institute cut its 2019 growth forecast for Germany on Thursday, predicting a recession in the third quarter.

“On balance, this round of ECB policy easing is seen as generally growth-supportive at the margin, but may not significantly move the growth dial,” said Selena Ling, Head of Strategy and Research at OCBC.

Trade-reliant commodity-linked .SXPP and automotive .SXAP stocks were boosted by fresh indications that a prolonged trade war between the United States and China was thawing.

After Beijing and Washington made tariff concessions to each other, U.S. President Donald Trump said he could consider an interim trade deal with China ahead of high-level negotiations in October.

The food & beverage index .SX3P was the biggest decliner on the STOXX 600 as investors continued to rotate out of defensive stocks.

Roche Holding (ROG.S) was the biggest boost to the index as it reported positive data from a primary progressive MS (PPMS) study.

French conglomerate Bollore Group (BOLL.PA) was also among the best performers after posting a 27% increase in first-half core earnings.

Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) rose 1.6% after becoming the first of 16 financial services companies to resolve claims that it conspired to rig prices of bonds issued by Fannie Mae (FNMA.PK) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.PK).

Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham

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