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European shares gain on ECB reassurance over stimulus

FILE - This April 22, 2010, file photo, shows a Wall Street sign in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks are rising in early trading on Wall Street Thursday, May 14, 2015, snapping a three-day losing streak. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

LONDON (AP) — European stock markets tracked their U.S. counterparts higher Friday, with sentiment supported by comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that the bank will “implement in full” its bond-buying program.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 0.2 percent to 11,533 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.1 percent to 5,035. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.2 percent at 6,989. U.S. stocks were poised for a steady opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.1 percent.

DRAGHI DRIVER: Traders have been spooked by recent volatility in the bond market, but reassurances from the U.S. and European central banks appear to have somewhat assuaged those fears. On Thursday, Draghi said the ECB’s 1.1 trillion-euro ($1.2 trillion) bond-buying program “will stay in place as long as needed for its objective to be fully achieved on a truly sustained basis.” There has been some speculation that the ECB may bring an end to its program earlier than anticipated in the wake of solid economic growth figures.

ANALYST TAKE: “Sentiment has been soothed by Draghi’s comments,” said Fawad Razaqzada, an analyst at Forex.com.

CHINA WEAKNESS: While the 19-country eurozone has been showing signs of healing, worries over China continue to weigh on sentiment. Data this week showed fixed asset investment growing at its slowest pace in 15 years, in keeping with government policy aimed at shifting away from heavy reliance on such spending to drive growth, but worrying for investors who fear a too sharp slowdown.

ASIA SCORECARD: Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.8 percent to 19,732.92 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 2 percent to 27,822.28. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 5,735.50. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.7 percent to 2,106.50 after the Bank of Korea kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 1.6 percent to 4,308.69. Markets in Southeast Asia mostly rose.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 29 cents to $59.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell 8 cents to $66.62 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The euro was down 0.3 percent at $1.1367 while the dollar rose 0.5 percent to 119.85 yen.

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