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Europe: Stocks stable at open before ECB decision

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[LONDON] Europe's main stock markets steadied in opening deals on Thursday, ahead of an interest rate decision by the European Central Bank.

In initial trade, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was virtually unchanged at 7,021.31 points compared with Wednesday's closing level.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 rose 0.2 per cent to 10,665.75 and in Paris the CAC 40 also added 0.2 per cent to 4,528.66 points.

ECB chief Mario Draghi is likely to prep markets for an extension of a huge monetary stimulus programme Thursday after investors were rattled by talk that massive bond purchases may be drying up.

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Policymakers are not however expected to make changes to the ECB's record low interest rates, cheap loans to banks or 80-billion-euro (S$121.8 trillion) per month asset-buying programme.

But markets will be watching Mr Draghi's news conference closely for signs of its next moves to support hesitant growth and inflation in the eurozone single currency area.

"Focus will shift into the European Central Bank meeting later today for any indication on whether the bank is considering tightening monetary policy soon," said FXTM's chief market strategist Hussein Sayed.

"We do not expect any action in today's meeting but the euro will be driven by forward guidance from Mr Draghi, who will be faced with questions related to a recent unofficial report indicating tapering asset purchases."

AFP

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