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European Shares Seen Up Ahead Of ECB Decision

stockmarkets jan02 22jul21 lt

European stocks may open higher on Thursday as investors look past economic threats from rising cases of the Delta coronavirus variant.

The highly contagious variant, which has been identified in 124 countries, is expected to become the dominant strain of the virus over the coming months, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Economic recovery will be held back unless the pace of COVID-19 vaccination picks up, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said and added that global growth for 2021 will be about 6 percent, the same as forecast in April.

The IMF is scheduled to release its next World Economic Outlook forecast update on July 27.

The focus now shifts to the ECB policy meeting later in the day, with the central bank expected to adjust its forward guidance, reflecting the new 2 percent inflation goal adopted by the central bank under the new strategy unveiled earlier this month.

The new strategy allows the ECB to retain interest rates at record lows for longer periods, while tolerating higher inflation.

Asian markets edged higher as strong U.S. earnings helped offset concerns about the economic impact of coronavirus flareups.

Gold slipped as the dollar and Treasury yields advanced. Oil steadied near $70 a barrel after a two-day gain.

Bitcoin climbed back above $32,000 after SpaceX founder Elon Musk said his rocket company owns bitcoin and that his electric car company Tesla would resume accepting bitcoin when mining uses more renewable energy.

Business confidence figures as well as the ECB's economic outlook and forward guidance may sway sentiment as the day progresses. Consumer confidence figures for the Eurozone will be released after the ECB press conference.

Across the Atlantic, trading may be impacted by reaction to reports on weekly jobless claims, existing home sales and leading economic indicators.

U.S. stocks rose for the second straight session overnight after a troubling start to the week on fears about a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

The Dow and the S&P 500 gained around 0.8 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.9 percent, powered by strong earnings from several big-name companies.

European stocks rallied on Wednesday as travel and leisure stocks rebounded after recent string of losses.

The pan European Stoxx 600 gained 1.7 percent. The German DAX rallied 1.4 percent, France's CAC 40 index surged 1.9 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 climbed 1.7 percent.

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