LONDON — With Wall Street closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and tensions between Russia and Turkey fading, European stock markets were buoyed Thursday by expectations that the European Central Bank will back further stimulus for the ailing 19-country eurozone economy next week.
There's increasing speculation that ECB President Mario Draghi will announce a bold package of measures as the bank tries to shore up the economic recovery across the region and get inflation back towards its target of just below 2 percent on an annual basis. Currently, inflation is standing at 0.1 percent. That prospect is keeping the euro currency at relative lows at $1.06 as well as depressing the interest rates payable on a series of government bonds across Europe.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.9 percent at 6,393.13 while Germany's DAX rose 1.4 percent to 11,320.77. The CAC-40 in France ended 1.1 percent higher at 4,946.02.
"In the event that the ECB fails to deliver what Mr. Market wants then one would expect to see a big drop in stock prices — an unlikely event, in our view," said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at Forex.com.
Razaqzada said there's potential for stock markets, particularly in Europe, to post further strong gains over coming days before possibly retreating a little sometime after the ECB meeting on Thursday.
Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.5 percent to 19,944.41 and South Korea's Kospi gained 1.1 percent to 2,030.68. Hong Kong's Hang Seng erased earlier gains, finishing flat at 22,488.94. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.3 percent to 5,210.70.
Wall Street is set to reopen Friday for an abbreviated session and much of the interest will likely center on Black Friday, when millions of Americans venture to shops the day after Thanksgiving in search of bargains.
In the energy markets, Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost 75 cents to trade at $45.42 a barrel in London.