FRANKFURT -- Stocks followed Tokyo and Hong Kong higher after Wall Street's strong rally yesterday afternoon.
Banks were among the biggest winners as merger hopes resurfaced. Dutch bank
said it would pay about $715 million for an 8.75% stake in Italy's
Banca di Roma
jumped 4.2%, and
Oil stocks also rose on higher oil prices.
was up 3.2%,
up 2.9% and
In Frankfurt, the
was up 56 points, or 1.2%, at 4779, while in London the
was up 40 at 6141 and in Paris the
was up 45, or 1.1%, at 4133.
European Central Bank
left rates unchanged Thursday. But some interpreted comments by ECB President Wim Duisenberg at his monthly press conference last night as a softening of his previous hard stance. And some economists now expect a 25-basis-point rate cut by the end April.