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Europe: Equities extend gains at open

[LONDON] Europe's stock markets advanced Friday, extending the previous day's rally after the European Central Bank said it would soon start to taper its monetary stimulus programme.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of major blue-chip firms rose 0.1 per cent to 7,494.59 points and the Paris CAC 40 added 0.3 per cent to 5,470.34.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 index climbed 0.4 per cent to stand at 13,186.55 points.

Equities swept higher Thursday after the ECB said it will reduce from January its purchases of government and corporate bonds to 30 billion euros (S$48.05 billion) a month, from 60 billion at present.

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Policymakers left themselves a nine-month horizon to decide on the next step for the quantitative easing (QE) policy, with a move due by September 2018.

"Now that QE has been reduced in half and simultaneously extended in duration again, the ECB has effectively maintained the same level of monetary stimulus as before," said Forex.com analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

"If anything, the central bank's desire to keep interest rates at current low levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the bank's net asset purchases, is quite dovish."

"This is good news for the stock markets in the eurozone," he added.

Asian stock markets rose Friday on the back of a stronger US dollar and investor optimism over President Donald Trump's long anticipated tax cuts.

AFP