London: European stocks climbed on Tuesday, extending a rebound into a second day on hopes of action by policymakers to tackle Europe’s debt crisis and as Chinese plans to boost infrastructure investments benefited mining shares.
At 4:63pm, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 6.61 points, or 0.7%, at 981.65, while the euro zone’s blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.7%.
But volumes were thin, higlighting a lack of conviction behind the rally, with the FTSEurofirst 300 having traded just 30% of its already weak 90-day average by around midday.
The STOXX 50 has fallen 17% since doubts were cast in mid-March over Spain’s ability to stick to its austerity programme.
Technical analysts said their preference would be for long positions so long as the STOXX 50 maintained a level above 2,105. But a break below that could open up a fall towards 2,050.
Cyclical shares such as heavyweight miners rose, lifted by a report saying China would fast-track approvals for infrastructure investments to reverse a slowdown in economic growth.
The Conference Board leading economic index for China, released overnight, rose month-on-month and is 11.7% higher than a year ago, a pace of growth that has accelerated each month.
Autos and parts producers, which are heavily exposed to growth in Asia and up 12.2% in 2012, were again strong performers on the back on the data.
Italian carmaker Fiat and German tyremaker Continental were each up 4.5%.
“The demand in Asia is still really strong. The likes of BMW and Mercedes can’t build cars quick enough for China. Renault (up 4.3%), for example, owns 50% of (Japanese carmaker) Nissan,” a London-based trader said.
Citing booming car sales in China and north America, another trader said the sector is also benefiting from premium prices German manufacturers are able to charge in China.
TIME FOR MORE ACTION?
The level of growth in Asia is something European and in particular euro zone economies can only dream of.
How to tackle Europe’s debt crisis while encouraging growth will top the agenda at an informal meeting of European leaders on Wednesday.
Hector Kilpatrick, chief investment officer at Cornelian Asset Managers, said although he does not expect anything to come out of the meeting, he does see policymakers taking decisive action possibly before the Greek elections on June 17.
“With the potential for capital flight becoming more central in policymakers’ minds they will be obliged to do something in the not too distant future,” he said.
On Monday, French President Francois Hollande said he wanted all options discussed to boost growth at the summit. Proposals are expected to include boosting the paid-in capital of the European Investment Bank and plans for EU ‘project bonds´ to finance infrastructure.
Euro zone banks, which have plummeted 35% in two months, lagged the broader market on concerns that Greece and Spain remain susceptible to runs on their lenders, and the potential for a domino effect through Europe.
“If a bank run in the wake of a Greek departure from the euro is the problem, we believe that any European Central Bank action is likely to prove insufficient and would only provide temporary relief. Action by governments and politicians is what is required,” UBS said in a note.
The region’s banks - the main holders of debt of countries such as Greece and Spain - have sunk to low valuation levels, with Credit Agricole and UniCredit trading at price-to-book ratios of 0.18 and 0.28 respectively.,
Greece’s four largest commercial banks will receive 18 billion euros ($23 billion) recapitalisation funds by Friday, a senior Greek banker said on Tuesday.