Europe Stocks Little Changed as Banks Rally After Draghi Speech

ECB Holds Rates Steady, QE Program Unchanged

European stocks closed little changed, erasing an earlier drop after Mario Draghi said downside risks to the euro-area economy were less pronounced.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added less than 0.1 percent at the close. Banks rallied, leading gains among industry groups, after European Central Bank President Draghi acknowledged that the cyclical recovery may be gaining momentum, saying there’s no longer a “sense of urgency” prompted by deflation risks. The euro and German bond yields rose.

  • “QE is here to stay in the Eurozone, until at least the end of this year. However, more policy action is less likely because deflation risks have receded,” Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index, wrote in a note. “Reading between the lines suggests that the next change from the ECB will be towards removing accommodation and not adding it.”
  • Stoxx 600 lenders closed at the highest level in three weeks, offsetting losses in miners, the worst performers in the regional benchmark.
  • Among shares active on corporate news, Akzo Nobel NV jumped 13 percent after the coatings company rejected an unsolicited 20.9 billion-euro ($22.1 billion) takeover bid from PPG Industries Inc. and said it may separate its specialty-chemicals business to boost the stock price.
  • Investors are also awaiting cues on monetary policy from the U.S. Futures traders are betting it’s a virtual certainty that Federal Reserve officials will raise interest rates at next week’s meeting.
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