Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stock markets steady after central bank stimulus plan

European markets have opened flat after strong gains on Wednesday sparked by a plan by some of the world\'s biggest central banks to stimulate lending.

Earlier, Asian markets rose strongly, with Japan\'s Nikkei closing up 1.9%, South Korea\'s Kospi climbing 3.7% and Hong Kong\'s Hang Seng 5.6% higher.

Investors were buoyed by the co-ordinated action to offer commercial banks cheaper access to US dollars.

On Wednesday, China also said it would free up money for its banks to lend.

The US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of the UK, Canada, Japan and Switzerland will take joint action from 5 December.

As well as cheaper US dollars, the central banks will also provide easier access for lenders to other major currencies as and when they need it.

Based around a transaction called dollar swaps, the plan cuts the cost of borrowing the US currency by half a percentage point.

This should, according to policymakers, trickle down and make it easier for businesses and households to get access to finance.

Analysts said sentiment was lifted by the hope that the plan may limit market volatility and go some way in helping to find a solution to the ongoing debt and economic problems in the eurozone.

Wall Street\'s Dow Jones index saw its biggest gain since March 2009, rising 4.2%

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