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Business

European stock markets close up sharply

European stock markets have experienced a boost after digesting Thursday's announcement by the ECB that it would cut interest rates and expand asset purchases. Not surprisingly, banking shares were the biggest winners.

European shares bounced back on Friday, with a recovery in metal and oil prices boosting commodities and the ECB's expanded cheap funding plan supporting lenders particularly in the eurozone periphery.

"The recovery in market sentiment suggests markets may be coming round to a positive view [on the ECB's move], with the ugly indigestion finally subsiding," Accendo Markets' Mike van Dulken told Reuters.

Banking stocks lifted Britain's FTSE-100, although they underperformed leading eurozone shares favored by investors as the main beneficiaries of the

ECB's fresh stimulus measures.

The index was up by 1.7 percent, recovering from Thursday's two-week low.

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The biggest gainers were banks in southern eurozone states, with their shares rising sharply ahead of a new round of cheap funding.

Banco Popular and Bankia of Spain and Italy's UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaola jumped 7 to 11 percent on Friday.

Commodities-related stocks were also in demand after prices of metals and crude oil rose. Glencore, Anglo American and Rio Tinto shares all surged by over 2 percent.

The EuroStoxx-50 closed 3.4 percent higher, while Germany's blue-chip DAX ended the day up 3.5 percent at 9,831.13 points.

hg/cjc (Reuters, dpa)

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