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Europe rallies on ECB; Wall St. up on earnings – Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – European shares hit a 14-year high and the euro fell on Wednesday after the European Central Bank affirmed its loose policy stance, while U.S. stocks rallied after several strong earnings reports.

Weak data out of China bolstered expectations of additional monetary stimulus that would likely help risk assets such as equities.

The euro lost ground against the dollar, falling to $ 1.0596 in a volatile session as traders weighed comments from ECB President Mario Draghi after the bank said it expects to continue its asset-purchase program of 60 billion euros a month. The ECB kept interest rates unchanged at record lows.

“Our focus will be on the full implementation of our monetary policy measures,” Draghi said.

A German auction saw 10-year borrowing costs for the euro zone’s biggest economy reach a record low.

U.S. stocks rallied, helped by better-than-expected results from banks JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) and Wells Fargo (WFC.N) and earnings from Intel (INTC.O) that were broadly in line with expectations.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 87.88 points, or 0.49 percent, to 18,124.58, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 10.86 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,106.7 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 23.26 points, or 0.47 percent, to 5,000.54.

Data earlier showed growth in China’s economy slowed to a six-year low of 7 percent in the first quarter, better than many feared after a woeful trade performance in March. ECONCN

But both retail sales and industrial output missed forecasts, intensifying Beijing’s struggle to find the right policy mix to shore up activity.

“Unless one can make a very good case or suggestion that we’ll see a rebound in April or May then it does look as if more easing from the People’s Bank (of China) is on the cards,” said Investec chief economist Philip Shaw.

The pan-European Eurofirst 300 index of leading shares .FTEU3 rose 0.8 percent to 1,653.62, its highest since late 2000. News that Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia (NOK1V.HE) has agreed to buy France’s Alcatel-Lucent (ALUA.PA) helped the push higher.

Shanghai stocks .SSEC were volatile, falling more than 1 percent on the Chinese data but recovering to be marginally positive.

The euro was down 0.7 percent at $ 1.0598 EUR= and was 0.6 percent lower against the yen at 126.42 yen EURJPY=. The euro zone common currency hit a one-month low against the dollar of $ 1.05205 on Monday.

German 10-year borrowing costs, the benchmark for euro zone debt, fell close to zero as a Bund auction showed there were enough private investors willing to compete with the ECB for the top-rated, almost yield-free paper. The yield DE10YT=RR hit a low of 0.107 percent; the 10-year U.S. yield US10YT=RR was at 1.88 percent.[GVD/EUR]

Brent crude oil LCOc1 prices rose 2.6 percent to $ 59.94 a barrel after a forecast that U.S. shale oil output would record its first monthly decline in more than four years. [O/R]

U.S. crude futures CLc1 were up 4.3 percent at $ 55.60.

(The story was refiled to correct the garbled headline)

(Additional reporting by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Marius Zaharia in London; Graphics by Vincent Flasseur; Editing by Catherine Evans and James Dalgleish)

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