Economic Outlook: Draghi's pledge

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International  |  July 27, 2012 at 9:51 AM
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It took the utterance of one man to turn a dismal week in equity markets into a sudden overnight success, as if the sun had just come out.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said in a speech that the bank would do "whatever it takes," to support the euro.

Suddenly, markets went in reverse. The limpid equity markets brightened considerably. Investors sold U.S. dollars and commodity prices rose, although early gains faded considerably by the end of the day.

Gold closed up $6.90 in New York at $1,619.90 per troy ounce, while grain futures slid after posting early gains. But agricultural commodities are in a whole different ballpark this year with one of the earliest spring planting seasons in memory followed by months with not enough rain. As Draghi said the ECB would support the euro, it was raining in the Midwest with the first substantial moisture in weeks. But the rain presumed to be too little too late to revive much of the stunted crops, sending a mixed message to traders.

Data from Spain shows that the ECB has little time to spare, if any. Unemployment in Spain reached 24.6 percent in the second quarter with more than half of the country's youth -- 53 percent -- unemployed. At the same time, the government recently passed a massive spending cut measure, which includes trimming unemployment benefits.

Draghi's most influential quote of the week fueled optimism that spilled over into Friday. The Nikkei 225 index in Japan gained 1.46 percent, while the Shanghai composite index in China was flat, rising 0.13 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 2.02 percent, while the Sensex in India gained 1.2 percent.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX index rose 1.5 percent.

In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index rose 0.17 percent, while the DAX 40 rose 1.25 percent. The CAC 40 index in France climbed 1.25 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 600 climbed 0.6 percent.

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