LONDON (AP) Markets, particularly in mainland Europe, rose Wednesday amid hopes that the European Central Bank may be moved to cut interest rates to shore up the recovery from recession.
The Fed has been the central bank most in the news in recent months as investors have tried to gauge when it would start pulling the plug on its monetary stimulus. On Friday, investors will have perhaps the most important economic release of all to digest the nonfarm payrolls report for October, which was delayed because of the partial shutdown of the U.S. government.
Before then, the ECB will take center stage with one of its most keenly-awaited policy meetings of recent months. Last week's news that inflation in the 17-country eurozone fell sharply to 0.7 percent in the year to October raised expectations that it will cut its main interest rate to a record low of 0.25 percent.
On Wednesday, further evidence emerged that the eurozone's recovery from recession is muted and prone to setbacks. Official figures showed retail sales across the region fell 0.6 percent in September, while a private sector survey of purchasing managers a gauge of business activity indicated growth was easing.
"Investors are looking cautiously optimistic that the ECB will cut interest rates for the second time in six months at tomorrow's meeting," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.
In Europe, stock markets where the euro is the currency had a good day. Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent to 9,040.87 while the CAC-40 in France ended 0.8 percent higher at 4,286.93. In Britain, which doesn't use the euro, the gains were more muted, with the FTSE 100 index down 0.1 percent at 6,741.69.
The positive mood carried through into the U.S. session where the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.7 percent at 15,727.84 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 1,769.37.
The greater appetite for risk that was evident in stock markets Wednesday was also evident elsewhere. In the currency markets, the euro was 0.3 percent higher at $1.3519 while in commodities, the price of benchmark New York crude rose $1.77 to $95.14 a barrel.
Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was barely changed at 23,036.94 and China's Shanghai Composite shed 0.8 percent to 2,139.61. Japan's Nikkei 225 outperformed, reversing early losses to close up 0.8 percent at 14,337.31.
Also looming, and particularly important for Asian investors, is the scheduled meeting of Chinese leaders in Beijing from Nov. 9-12 over a new blueprint for the world's No. 2 economy as its state-led growth model runs out of oomph.
Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines contributed to this report.