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European stocks rose to the highest level in more than five years as the Federal Reserve unexpectedly decided against slowing the pace of its monthly bond purchases.
The Fed yesterday refrained from reducing its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases, saying it needs to see more indications that the U.S. economy is improving sustainably. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg before the decision had predicted that the central bank would start tapering stimulus measures this month.
“Conditions in the job market today are still far from what all of us would like to see,” Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said at a press conference in Washington after European markets closed. “The committee has concern that rapid tightening of financial conditions in recent months would have the effect of slowing growth.”
Bernanke reiterated that a decision on slowing the pace of asset purchases would depend on economic data, and that the Fed has no set timetable. The central bank repeated its guidance that its target interest rate will remain low for at least as long as unemployment exceeds 6.5 percent, and the outlook for inflation is no higher than 2.5 percent.
National benchmark indexes gained in all 18 western European markets today, except Iceland. Germany’s DAX rose 0.7 percent, extending a record. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 added 1 percent and France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.9 percent.
UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank, climbed 2.7 percent to 4.94 euros. Standard Chartered added 3.3 percent to 1,564 pence. A gauge of European lenders increased 0.8 percent, extending its rally since a June 24 low to 20 percent.
Randgold jumped 8.1 percent to 4,841 pence as gold extended yesterday’s biggest gain in more than 15 months. Polymetal surged 7.9 percent to 705.5 pence, the largest advance since Aug. 16. Fresnillo Plc, which produces gold and silver in Mexico, rallied 6.1 percent to 1,069 pence.
A gauge of commodity producers posted the third-best performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600.
Richemont, owner of the Cartier brand, climbed 2.1 percent to 94.60 Swiss francs as a report showed watch exports rose 0.5 percent in August from a year earlier. Swatch, the biggest maker of Swiss watches, gained 1.7 percent to 596.50 francs.
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