European markets rise on Joe Biden's ambitious 'once in a generation investment'

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28:   President Joe Biden speaks with lawmakers as he exits the House chamber at the end of his address to the joint session of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. On the eve of his 100th day in office, Biden will speak about his plan to revive America's economy and health as it continues to recover from a devastating pandemic. He will deliver his speech before 200 invited lawmakers and other government officials instead of the normal 1600 guests because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Caroline Brehman - Pool/Getty Images)

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, Biden revealed a huge $ 4tn (£2.9tn) investment plan for jobs, early education and social care. Photo: Caroline Brehman – Pool/Getty Images

European stock markets mostly rose on Thursday as US president Joe Biden unveiled big spending plans in Congress, and the Federal Reserve left monetary policy unchanged on Wednesday night.

In London, the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) climbed 0.63% by mid-morning, back above the 7,000 points mark, while the French CAC (^FCHI) gained 0.51% and the DAX (^GDAXI) in Germany was 0.22% lower.

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, Biden revealed a huge $ 4tn (£2.9tn) investment plan for jobs, early education and social care.

He called the spending a “once in a generation investment in America itself”, as he presented the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan.

He described the American Jobs Plan as “a blue-collar blueprint to build America” that would boost investment in public transport, high-speed broadband and roads and bridges. He added that the plan would be guided by the battle against climate change.

The $ 1.8tn American Families Plan will focus on children and aim to provide free pre-school for children aged three to four, paid family and medical leave and tuition-free community college.

WATCH: Joe Biden’s full speech to Congress

A string of earnings reports were also moving markets in London on Thursday. Smith & Nephew (SN.L), Unilever (ULVR.L), Standard Chartered (STAN.L), and BT Group (BT-A.L) were all at the top of the FTSE 100 risers.

Smith & Nephew resumed its full-year guidance following a 12% revenue increase in the first quarter, while Unilever post better-than-expected sales due to a boom in home cooking during lockdown.

Standard Chartered reported an 18pc rise in first-quarter profits and BT rose after the Telegraph revealed that is in talks with several companies over the future of BT Sport.

On the opposite end of the scale, shares in NatWest Group (NWG.L) slumped despite the bank beating profit forecasts.

READ MORE: NatWest beats profit forecast as it unlocks £100m loss provision

Across the pond, S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were up 0.63%, Dow futures (YM=F) advanced 0.36%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were 0.99% higher.

The positive sentiment also comes after the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) held interest rates at near-zero as part of its commitment to aggressive economic stimulus.

The central bank said the coronavirus vaccine rollout had improved the US economy, adding that it remains optimistic about the rebound. It described the most adversely affected industries as having “shown improvement.”

However, Fed chair Jerome Powell said that there were still over 8 million more American who were out of a job than there were in February last year.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) did manage to put in a new record high above 4,200, before slipping back again, after a comment from Jay Powell that some asset prices might be a little high.

READ MORE: Fed holds rates near zero, notes rising inflation as US economy ‘strengthened’

“Last night’s Fed statement saw the US central bank acknowledge the recent improvement in US economic data, but also reiterate that they remained a long way short of the type of outcome-based data needed to alter their current policy stance, nixing any prospect of a taper in the near term,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

Today investors will also be focusing on the US first quarter GDP report which looks set to be the aperitif for a bumper first half of the year for the US economy.

Weekly jobless claims are expected to be steady at 545k.

The positive mood was also helped by positive earnings announcements, from the likes of Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB), who both beat market expectations, on revenues and profits.

Meanwhile in Asian trading, markets in Japan were closed for a holiday. The Hang Seng (^HSI) jumped 0.78% and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) closed 0.52% higher.

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