European stocks rallied at the open Friday, lifted by the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's September meeting that cast doubts over the chances of a rate hike this year. Earlier in the day, Asian markets also closed significantly higher, building on a positive handover from Wall Street.
The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.9 percent during early trade -- heading for its biggest weekly advance since January -- before paring its gains and trading 0.5 percent higher.
London’s FTSE 100 was trading up 0.6 percent, as mining shares pulled the market higher. Glencore shares rose 7.6 percent, making it the top gainer in Europe, after it announced it was slashing its annual zinc output by a third.
France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX were trading up 1.1 percent and 1.2 percent respectively.
In the U.S., stock futures were mostly flat -- a day after the the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 17,000 points -- gaining 0.8 percent -- for the first time since Aug. 19.
“[The minutes of the Fed's meeting] indicated that U.S. rate hikes are more likely to be a 2016 story given increased concerns about the global outlook,” Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research at Perpetual Investment Management, told the Wall Street Journal, adding that this has been “music to the ears of investors.”
The minutes from the September meeting, released Thursday, revealed that the Federal Reserve was worried about increased “downside risks” to global economic activity following the slowdown in China. These concerns are believed to have been pivotal in the Fed’s decision to keep interest rates near zero.
Earlier Friday, markets across Asia also traded higher, as the promise of cheap capital in emerging markets perked up investors.
The Shanghai Composite Index closed up 1.3 percent, while Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index ended up 0.46 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.6 percent, South Korea’s Kospi Composite Index closed 0.7 percent higher, and India’s S&P BSE Sensex traded up 0.8 percent.
“It’s the perception that easier Fed policy means a weaker U.S. dollar and that helps emerging markets like China to grow,” Damien Boey, an equity strategist at Credit Suisse, told Reuters. “I'm not sure that we've seen the end of the problems for China yet but none the less, that's what investors seem to be pricing in.”