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Europe: Shares rise energised by Draghi; Italy boosted by bank rally

[LONDON] European shares rose on Thursday after slumping in the previous session to 15-month lows, as a hint of more stimulus from ECB president Mario Draghi helped reassure investors following a turbulent start to the year.

Turmoil in financial markets and concerns over China and other emerging markets will prompt a March review of the European Central Bank's monetary policy, Draghi said on Thursday, holding out the prospect of further loosening. "Draghi's words have helped calm down the market,"Activtrades Chief Market Analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said, noting how Italy had outperformed after heavy losses in banking shares led European stocks to their lowest point in 15 months.

Daniel Sugarman, Market Strategist at ETX Capital, said what really "energized" European markets was the prospect of more monetary stimulus in just two months time.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 2.1 per cent to 1,294.05 points. The index fell 3.3 per cent to its lowest level since October 2014 in the previous session. Milan's FTSE MIB index climbed 4.2 per cent while Germany's DAX was up 1.9 per cent.

Italian banks rebounded from another sell-off on Wednesday triggered by bad loan and liquidity worries, with embattled lender Monte dei Paschi soaring 43 per cent as Prime Minister Matteo Renzi sought to reassure investors that the sector was solid despite its mountain of bad loans.

Monte dei Paschi has borne the brunt of a sell-off in Italian banking shares this year, losing more than half its market value since the end of 2015, with some investors seeing current values as a buying opportunity.

Shares in Pearson surged 17 per cent after the British education publisher announced plans to cut 10 per cent of its workforce, cap its dividend and restructure after cutting earnings forecasts for 2015 and 2016. "Whilst it is disappointing to see further restructuring costs and little, if any, improvement in underlying markets, we are broadly encouraged that Pearson has decided to redouble its efforts to meet external and internal challenges," said Roddy Davidson, analyst at Shore Capital. "We believe the market will also be relieved by its decision to maintain dividends at 2015 year levels." Swiss-American technology accessories maker Logitech also jumped 9.6 per cent after its quarterly results beat analyst forecasts.

However, Deutsche Bank fell 3.4 per cent after saying it expected a net loss of 6.7 billion euros for 2015 due to writedowns, litigation charges and restructuring costs.

The announcement by Germany's biggest bank has renewed concerns that it will now need to raise new capital to strengthen its finances.


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