LONDON ( The Deal) -- The Federal Reserve's surprise retreat Wednesday from the brink of monetary tightening unleashed a wave of euphoria across stock markets in Asia and Europe Thursday. The Fed unexpectedly decided to avoid a so-called taper on its monthly bond repurchases, maintaining the level at $85 billion, amid signs the U.S. economy still requires central bank support.
European stock indices rose to five-year highs. The DAX climbed 101.30, or 1.17%, to 8,737.36, while the FTSE 100 rose 90.34, or 1.38%, to 6,649.16, with large gainers including resources companies and banks. A Delaware court ruling will delay a plan by French media and telecom company Vivendi to sell over $8 billion of shares in its Activision Blizzard ( ATVI) gaming affiliate. The court ruled a share $2.34 billion purchase from Vivendi by a group led by Activision co-Chairman Brian Kelly and CEO Bobby Kotick must be cleared by shareholders other than Vivendi. The Vivendi plan also includes selling back to Activision another $5.83 billion of stock. Vivendi shares in Paris slipped €0.05 (6.8 cents) to €17.405 as investors bet that the deal will eventually go through after a delay.
In the Netherlands, ING Groep ( ING) offered more information about its long-awaited, European Commission-mandated splitoff of European insurance unit from its banking activities. It said it may conduct this through a partial spinoff in 2014, rather than via a straight IP0. Its shares edged up €0.038, or 0.42%, to €9.023. In Asia, the Nikkei closed up 260.82, or 1.80%, at 14,766.18 and the Hang Seng gained 385.06, or 1.67%, to close at 23,502.51. Standard & Poor's futures edged up 0.31% at 1,723.10.