European stocks rally on ECB easing, Wall St. sags and euro tumbles

By Michael Connor

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The European Central Bank’s plan to pump out about 1 trillion euros to revive the euro zone economy kept stocks in the region on track for their best week since 2011 but knocked the shared currency to fresh 11-year lows.

Wall Street, which rallied 1.5 percent on Thursday’s European bond-buying announcement, was off because of soft corporate earnings. U.S. Treasury debt prices jumped as European yields touched record lows and left America’s higher interest rates still more attractive to investors.

Oil prices rose on hopes for a boost to global growth from the ECB’s move, while the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah added to uncertainty over the plans of the world’s biggest crude exporter.

The appetite for riskier assets was intense with traders also driving Italian, Spanish and many other euro zone bond yields to new record lows.

“What the market is focusing on is the potentially open- ended element of the (ECB QE) program,” said Emile Cardon, the euro zone strategist at Rabobank.

Led by Greek shares, stocks in Europe were set for their biggest weekly gain in over three years. The ECB’s bond-buying scheme helped Greece’s ATG share index <.ATG> rise more than 6 percent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares was last up 1.4 percent at 1,473.94 points after touching a new seven-year high. Germany’s DAX <.GDAX> and Paris’s CAC 40 <.FCHI> were last ahead over 1 percent.

There were nerves about cliff-hanger elections in Greece on Sunday that polls suggest will be won by the anti-EU/IMF bailout Syriza party. But the ECB’s pledge to buy roughly 50 billion euros of government bonds a month from March until September 2016 more than compensated.

U.S. stocks declined, partly on worries the surging dollar will hurt U.S. corporate earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 88.24 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,725.74, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gave up 9.9 points, or 0.48 percent, to 2,053.25, and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> lost 11.79 points, or 0.25 percent, to 4,738.61.

United Parcel Service Inc shares fell nearly 10 percent after the delivery giant gave a fourth-quarter earnings outlook below expectations.

The euro went into another nosedive and crashed through $ 1.13, $ 1.12 and all the way to $ 1.1115 in a matter of hours, in its biggest daily fall in over three years. The euro did recover some and was last off nearly 1 percent at $ 1.1267. [FRX/]

“We are in a period of severe stress in terms of position liquidation. Where this stops, it is impossible to tell,”

said Derek Halpenny and Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi.

Long-dated bonds led a U.S. debt rally and the yield curve flattened. Benchmark 10-year notes gained 22/32 in price to yield 1.82 percent, far higher than comparable German debt yields that fell to record lows of 0.312 percent on Friday.

Thirty-year bonds gained 1-29/32 in price to yield 2.38 percent, down from 2.47 percent late on Thursday.

Brent crude oil rose on Friday after the death of Saudi Arabia’s king added to uncertainty in oil markets, although the new ruler indicated immediately there would be no policy change.

Brent crude rose to a high of $ 49.80, up $ 1.28 a barrel, before easing to around $ 49.20. U.S. light crude oil rose to $ 46.41, up 10 cents.

(Reporting By Michael Connor in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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