THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: ECB talk rings hollow as markets fall

Mario Draghi during his press conference following the monthly ECB board meeting. Picture: Getty
Mario Draghi during his press conference following the monthly ECB board meeting. Picture: Getty
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European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi’s all talk and no action approach to monetary policy was not enough to keep markets happy.

Even though many economists said he was edging closer to some form of quantitative easing early next year, traders were out of patience after months of hints.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “The markets finally reached their breaking point with how much ambiguity they were willing to accept from the ECB. Not only did Draghi fail to provide new information, he went as far as downplaying QE intervention any time soon, claiming that the previous tentative first quarter 2015 date for stimulus doesn’t necessarily mean the next ECB meeting.”

The FTSE 100 Index slipped 37.26 points to 6,679.37, with other European bourses also in the red.

Brent crude prices at below $70 a barrel ensured commodity stocks again littered the blue chip fallers’ board, with BP down 10p to 426.9p and Shell 30p lower at 2,229p – rumours earlier this week about their imminent merger now apparently a distant memory.

On the other hand travel stocks stayed on the front foot after weeks of gains on the back of declining oil prices as Ryanair and EasyJet both added to the cheer by reporting strong passenger figures for November.

EasyJet rose 48p to 1,716p, while Thomson and First Choice owner Tui Travel was up 15.6p to 444.3p after annual underlying profits beat City forecasts with an 11 per cent improvement at constant currency.

Accounting software firm Sage rose sharply for a second successive session. Wednesday’s surge of 5 per cent was followed by a near 7 per cent gain – up 27.5p to 449.6p – as brokers upped their guidance in the wake of full-year results.