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Stocks higher ahead of key central bank meet

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TOKYO / AFP

European stock markets rose on
Monday, with Frankfurt hitting levels above 10,000 points, following a strong start to the week across Asia as traders looked ahead to more central bank action.
The Bank of Japan started a two-day meeting on Monday, while the Federal Reserve and Bank of England also gather this week to decide over the direction for interest rates and stimulus.
Ahead of that US meeting, shares on Wall Street opened marginally lower, taking a pause after a big rally.
Markets are keen to see if Japanese policymakers unleash fresh stimulus, after launching a widely-panned negative interest rate policy in January, while the Fed talks will be watched for clues about a possible timeline for more rate hikes.
The Bank of England, meanwhile, is expected to leave its main lending rate at 0.50 percent. A day ahead of Thursday’s decision, Britain also presents its annual budget.
The monetary policy meetings come after the European Central Bank last week cut rates and boosted its bond-buying in a bid to kickstart the tepid eurozone economy, in turn helping Frankfurt’s DAX 30 shares index to rally in recent days.
On Monday, the DAX went above 10,000 for the first time since January 13, hitting an intra-day high of 10,039.61 points. It was up more than one percent in mid-afternoon trades, with the CAC and FTSE also slightly higher.
“Asian stocks headed higher… following the lead from stocks on Wall Street on Friday and giving European markets a healthy shot in the arm first thing,” said James Hughes, chief market analyst at trading group GKFX.
European indices won a boost from strong showing across Asia, after the new head of China’s new market regulator hinted at more action to support volatile mainland bourses.
Hong Kong closed up 1.2 percent and Shanghai tacked on 1.8 percent, despite more evidence of a slowdown in China’s economy — the world’s second-largest and a key driver of global growth.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index finished 1.7-percent higher.
“Equity markets are making a solid start to the week, continuing with their post-ECB bounce,” said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
“Poor China data over the weekend has stoked the fires of stimulus hopes,” — helping to lift commodity prices and mining groups’ shares.
In the first two months of the year, output at China’s factories, workshops and mines was the weakest since the global financial crisis, official figures showed Saturday.
But Chinese shares got a lift Monday after the new head of China’s stock-market regulator said at the weekend that the state would intervene “if the market is not working properly at all or continues to fall”.
“It will be too early to talk about withdrawing” state support for stocks “for rather a long time into the future”, said Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
The Bank of Japan, which is also teh Central Bank, is headquartered in Nihonbashi, Chuo in Tokyo, on the site of a former gold mint (the Kinza) and, not coincidentally, near the
famous Ginza district, whose name means ‘silver mint’.
The Neo-baroque Bank of Japan building in Tokyo was designed by Tatsuno Kingo in 1896.
The Osaka branch in Nakanoshima is sometimes considered as the structure which effectively symbolises the bank as an institution.

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