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World markets headed for second week of gains as ECB signals QE expansion

London: World shares headed for a second week of gains on Friday after more reassuring U.S. data, while the yen pulled out of its dive as Japan's finance minister warned its recent weakening had been "too rapid".

Euro zone stocks were set for their first weekly gain this month after an early rise, with traders spurred on by signals from Mario Draghi that the European Central Bank is becoming increasingly agitated by the bloc's feeble growth and inflation.

The region's markets have been lagging those of the United States, Japan and faster-growing Britain over the last month, but a ramping up of ECB rhetoric this week has stoked hopes the bank will take more aggressive measures.

"We will continue to meet our responsibility -- we will do what we must to raise inflation and inflation expectations as fast as possible," Draghi said in a speech.

"If on its current trajectory our policy is not effective enough to achieve this ... we would step up the pressure and broaden even more the channels through which we intervene."

The comments pushed 10-year Italian government bond yields, which have been one of the biggest beneficiaries since Draghi took charge of the ECB in 2011, to a new all-time low, and shoved the euro back below $1.25 to $1.2470.

Germany's DAX, France's CAC and pan-regional Euro STOXX 50 were all up between 0.8 and 1 percent by 0915 GMT, leaving them on course for weekly gains of 3 percent, 1.3 percent and 2 percent respectively.

Japan, the other major economy trying to aggressively stimulate its economy and inflation, remained in focus, as the yen rose sharply from this week's seven-year low to the dollar.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said the currency's fall over the past week was "too rapid", in one of the strongest warnings against a weak yen since Tokyo and the Bank of Japan started their aggressive monetary stimulus two years ago.

Contrasting its All World benchmark, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ended the week down over 1 percent as the Nikkei also saw its first weekly drop in five.

After weeks of speculation about a snap election, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved parliament's lower house on Friday. Victory for him in the Dec. 14 poll could pave the way for more drastic reforms and stimulus.

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Global investor sentiment was underpinned by record finishes by the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 on Thursday after a spate of upbeat U.S. data that offset signs of spreading weakness in China and Europe.

Initial U.S. weekly jobless claims fell, factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region grew at its fastest pace in two decades and existing home sales strengthened.

Hong Kong and mainland Chinese shares also rebounded on Friday as prolonged profit-taking pressure finally eased in the first week of a landmark link between the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges.

"Investors are back to being reasonable," said Shih Wenbien, stock strategist at Yunta Securities in Shanghai.

In commodities markets there were also signs of stabilisation after weeks of turbulence.

Oil extended gains with U.S. crude adding about 0.6 percent to $76.33 a barrel and Brent lifting about 0.5 percent to $79.69, on track to snap a straight eight-week slide.

Spot gold was slightly lower on the day at $1,193.40 an ounce, but still on track for its third straight weekly gain.

Reuters

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Updated Date: Nov 21, 2014 17:05:23 IST

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