Updated from 8:56 a.m. EDT
Global markets reacted positively Thursday to news of international support for U.S. retaliation against Tuesday's terrorist attacks.
Markets in Europe and across the Pacific Rim posted modest gains, although trading remains choppy and somewhat tentative in the wake of one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in history. Traders, who still appeared somewhat stunned by Tuesday's events, took in stride Thursday's news that the European Central Bank held interest rates steady.
In afternoon trading in Europe, all eyes were on the U.S., where bond trading resumed after a two-day hiatus. Bonds surged at the open, but gains moderated as trading continued. While brisk, trading appeared orderly, providing additional comfort to global markets. Futures markets are also suggesting the potential of more rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, possibly even before the next scheduled meeting in early October.At London's close, the FTSE 100 posted a gain of 61.50, or 1.2%, to 4944, extending Wednesday's 2.9% gain. Continental markets followed London's lead with moderate gains. In Frankfurt, the Dax moved 0.3% higher to 4348, while in Paris, the CAC 40 was largely unchanged at 4114. Many insurance issues recovered a portion of Wednesday's losses, a result of concern over potential claims from the U.S. disaster. Near the close, Swiss Re gained more than 10%, and Munich Re moved higher by 5%. Both are large reinsurance concerns with operations in the U.S. Allianz was up 1.3%. On Wednesday, analysts began to estimate the value of potential claims from the World Trade Center disaster and other calamities. Some estimates push $20 billion or more. While the claims are spread across many companies, reinsurance companies, which underwrite major catastrophe policies, are subject to the largest claims. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) Chairman Warren Buffett said Wednesday that his company is likely to pay 3% to 5% of all claims related to the disaster, although he did not estimate the total claim value. Berkshire owns General Re, a large reinsurer, and several other insurance companies. Airlines were mixed into the close. Air France gained more than 2%, while British Airways dropped another 5.8%. Germany's Lufthansa lost 2.6%. The European Central Bank met Thursday and decided, as expected, to leave rates unchanged. The ECB benchmark is currently 4.25%. Trading in U.S. stocks on foreign markets was suspended again Thursday and will likely remain halted until U.S. exchanges reopen.