European Central Bank holds interest rates steady

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All sectors rose, led by the consumer-goods group.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index closed 0.6% higher at 7,203.24 points. Germany's DAX 30 index finished up 0.9% at 12,355.57. In China, the Shanghai Composite is up 0.4%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is up 1.4%.

Indeed, for all of the well-founded optimism around the euro zone's economic boom since late a year ago, the European Central Bank is no doubt more anxious than it can possibly let on that forward-looking indicators suggest it may already be slowing.

In the meantime, the Japanese yen has been on a tear against a sinking dollar recently, despite expectations for several Fed rate rises this year.

What was driving the market? Shares of European exporters can be hurt when the euro rises, as euro strength can reduce revenue made overseas by such companies.

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The ECB dropped the so-called "easing bias" from its monetary policy message, or a commitment to boost its quantitative easing programme if the eurozone's economy deteriorates as the Frankfurt-based bank has become increasingly confident that growth in the euro area can survive without its monetary stimulus.

Stocks in Europe and the United States also moved higher.

But Bank of Ireland slipped 2.2 per cent to €7.28. while Permanent TSB, drinks group C&C and paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa were also among the fallers. It slightly reduced its 2019 inflation forecast to 1.7% from 1.9%.

Interest rates on the marginal lending facility and on the deposit facility will remain steady at their current level of 0.25 percent and -0.40 percent, respectively, the European Central Bank said. The ECB said it would continue its program of asset purchases through September, "or beyond, if necessary". President Donald Trump's adviser Peter Navarro said yesterday that Mexico and Canada would be initially excluded from the tariffs, a decision that would be reversed should the nations fail to negotiate a new North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Spreads more broadly may have some more breathing room as the actual government formation discussions in Italy do not look set to kick off for real until later this month when parliament convenes for the first time", ING strategists said in a note. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by CMC Markets or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.

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Justice Chandrachud, however, said that "the moment we step into the realm of public law, we are stepping into a risky domain". Neither Hadiya nor Shafin was present in court.

'In itself this was not market moving, but Mario Draghi succeeded in talking the Euro - and Eurozone bond yields - down in his ensuing press conference'.

Which stocks were in focus? "It's the confirmation that normalization is on track", he said.

Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA (CO.FR) fell 3.7% after the French retailer posted a sharp drop in 2017 profit (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/casino-profit-slumps-in-2017-as-sales-tick-up-2018-03-08).

Among specific stocks, BHP Billiton fell 2.8% while Hugo Boss declined 4.5% after the company said it is cautious on profits for 2018 as it has invested in stores and its website.

Britvic PLC (BVIC.LN) jumped 6.2% after Morgan Stanley upgraded the soft drinks maker's rating to overweight from equalweight.

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It also produced "thundersnow", with flashes of lightning and booming thunder from the Philadelphia area to New York City. A mix of snow and light rain fell before daybreak in many areas, then turned to all snow, making driving treacherous.

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