By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
MADRID (MarketWatch) -- European stock markets rebounded on Thursday, a day after the biggest selloff in more than two weeks, and getting a helping hand from the new Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.
The central bank left key rates unchanged, but in an unusual move, released a policy statement at the same time that many took to read as no rate hikes were coming soon in that country. The European Central Bank also left rates unchanged and a press conference is due shortly.
With the absence of U.S. markets, closed for the Independence Day holiday, investors were keeping focus on Europe. The Stoxx Europe index rose 0.8% to 287.70, more than reversing a 0.6% loss in the prior session.
Plenty was going on but risk appetite appeared to be building, with Portugal's stock market rallying as a political crisis in that country appeared to be calming down, while oil prices were falling as Egypt named a new interim president. Read the latest on Egypt
Among the big movers, Banco Comercial Portugues SA and Banco Espirito Santo SA each rose close to 8%. On Wednesday, Portugal's stock-market regulator temporarily banned short selling of shares in those banks and two other companies until late Thursday. A recovery for those stocks helped the PSI 20 index rise close to 3%, at 5,384.31, after closing over 5% lower on Wednesday.
The yield on Portugal's 10-year government bond crept up 13 basis points to 7.435%, but well off a spike above 8% seen the prior day. Leaders in Portugal were fighting to keep the government's coalition together after resignations by two ministers. The Wall Street Journal reported that Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and the leader of the junior partner in the government held meetings late Wednesday to keep that coalition intact. Read: Five things to know about growing turmoil in Portugal
The sharp selloff stemming partly from Portugal had begun to dissipate somewhat during the latter part of Europe trading on Wednesday, as Wall Street stocks rose on positive jobs data. U.S. markets will return to action on Friday when all-important nonfarm payroll data will be released. Economists expect the economy added 155,000 jobs in June, less than the 175,000 added in May.
U.S. stock futures, trading in a shortened session were higher.
Taking the lead behind Portugal for European index gains, the FTSE 100 index jumped nearly 2% to 6,346.55, with banks powering ahead. Shares of HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC) surged 2.8%, Barclays PLC (BCS) rose 3% and Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LYG) added 2%.
The Bank of England left its policy unchanged, leaving rates at a record-low 0.5% and the size of its bond-buying program unchanged at 375 billion pounds ($572 billion), but in a statement that markets weren't expecting it had a little more to say.
"In the United Kingdom, there have been further signs that a recovery is in train, although it remains weak by historical standards and a degree of slack is expected to persist for some time," said the central bank, which added that consumer price inflation could rise 12 months out, then pull back later.
Some took a dovish read on that statement and the pound tumbled more than 1% against the dollar, dropping to levels not seen since May. It was the first meeting for Governor Carney.
The European Central Bank also left key rates unchanged and shortly ECB President Mario Draghi will kick off a press conference. Some say Draghi could strike a "dovish" pose and emphasize more downside risks to the region's economy, even amid some upbeat data as of late. Read preview
Broker moves were also helping to lift shares of several stocks across Europe. Peugeot SA surged over 7% after Goldman Sachs upgraded shares to buy from neutral. The investment bank said it's encouraged by indications the Peugeot family might cede control of the automaker, which could mean some catalysts for stock gains.
Shares of Kering SA rose over 3% after analysts at Exane Paribas upgraded the French luxury company to outperform from neutral, saying they expect an upcoming first-half update by the company to show significant price gains at its Gucci label, and a richer retail-versus-wholesale mix.
Those gains helped boost the French CAC 40 index 1.3% to 3,751.06, but it also plenty of help from banks that were rebounding from prior-day losses. Societe Generale SA and BNP Paribas SA , each rose more than 1%.
Oil group Total SA (TOT) jumped nearly 1% and drug group Sanof SA (SNY) climbed 1.5%.
The German DAX 30 index added close to 1%, to 7,907.29. Shares of Daimler AG continued to gain after a prior-day broker upgrade, with shares up 2.3% and Volkswagen AG rose 2%. Among financials Allianz SE gained 2%.
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