European stock markets pushed higher on Thursday as traders digested key decisions on interest rates from the Bank of England (BoE) and the European Central Bank (ECB).
It came as the BoE hiked UK interest rates from 0.1% to 0.25% for the first time since the start of the pandemic in a bid to combat soaring inflation.
The European Central Bank, meanwhile, voted to leave interest rates unchanged despite rising inflation across the eurozone.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted 8-1 to take action amid pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who discouraged it from any further delays. It also voted 9-0 to maintain the amount of quantitative easing at £895bn ($1.2tn).
UK inflation hit a 10-year high of 5.1% last month, more than double the Bank’s 2% target, putting pressure on the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to lift borrowing costs from record lows.
The pound (GBPUSD=X) jumped by almost a cent against the US dollar on the back of the news, hitting $1.335, a rise of 0.7%. This is the currency's highest level in more than two weeks.
Elsewhere, business groups are urging the UK government to provide more support for the hospitality sector to help them survive the impact of the new virus strain.
Last night, Chris Whitty, chief medical officer, said people should cut back on socialising in the run-up to Christmas to curb the spread of the virus.
Watch: Will interest rates stay low forever?
All three main indexes on Wall Street rallied on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced it was speeding up the taper of its pandemic financial support to $30bn a month, adding that it expects three interest rate rises next year, and three in 2023.
The move came after US inflation surged to 6.8% in November, the highest rate since 1982. However the tone of the statement, as well as the press conference suggested that they still believed that current levels of inflation were likely to be transitory.
“Despite liquidity being sucked out of the economy, stock traders are optimistic that the United States will be able to stay on track and achieve sustainable growth in 2022,” Naeem Aslam of Think Markets said.
“This is good news for stock markets because economic growth ultimately translates into higher profits for companies, which will mean higher returns for investors in the form of more dividends and rising share prices.”
Stocks in Asia took their cue from Wall Street overnight, with the Nikkei (^N225) climbing 2.1% in Tokyo as the dollar's rise against the yen helped exporters.