Europe midday: Shares hold gains on modest taper call from ECB
European shares held gains on Friday on the back of higher Asian markets and despite a signal from the European Central Bank that it would taper asset purchases.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.30% with all major regional bourses higher. Investors were digesting the ECB's decision on Thursday to slow down bond buying under its pandemic emergency purchase programme in response to higher inflation and stronger GDP growth across the euro zone. The ECB also modestly revised up its medium-term inflation forecasts.
"The ECB did little to rock the boat, announcing a modest taper, but this was not exactly hawkish. PEPP will be conducted at a slightly slower pace, but this is all just tinkering at the edges," said Neil Wilson at Markets.com.
"Stocks found some bid, the euro also rose a touch but turned around – just a hint of noise, no new direction or anything to change the mind of any investors out there. Lagarde stressed it’s not a taper but ‘recalibration’ of PEPP."
In the UK, GDP growth slowed in July to 0.1%, against expectations of a rise of 0.6% as disruptions to supply chains, staff shortages and rising Covid-19 case numbers hit the economy.
In a quiet day of equity news Swedish property firm Samhällsbyggnadsbolaget climbed 4% to top the Stoxx after starting a new apartment project.
French luxury goods maker LVMH gained after HSBC recommended buying the stock, while Fresenius Medical Care dropped 3.3% after JP Morgan cut rating on the stock to 'underweight'.
BioNTech rose after two executives at the German biotech firm told the Der Spiegel newspaper that the company is set to request approval across the globe for use of its Covid-19 vaccine in children as young as five.