LONDON (AP) — Financial markets settled down Thursday after the turmoil of the previous day when concerns over the U.S. fiscal situation combined with renewed worries over the European economy to hammer stocks.
But a vote early Thursday by the Greek Parliament to back another round of austerity measures has helped shore up confidence, though the country still has a hurdle or two to clear before it gets its hands on vital bailout cash it needs to avoid bankruptcy and potentially leaving the euro.
"Last night's successful Greek austerity vote should help calm some frayed investor nerves in the short term at least," said Michael Hewson, markets analyst at CMC Markets.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.4 percent at 5,812 while Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent to 7,263. The CAC-40 in France was 0.6 percent higher at 3,432.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.3 percent at 12,975 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.5 percent to 1,401.
For once, the monthly press conference from Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, proved to be a non-event — at least among investors. His warning that the economic outlook for the 17 countries that use the euro remains weak in spite of a calmer feel in bond markets was not much of a surprise. Draghi spoke after the bank's governing council left its key interest rate unchanged at the record low of 0.75 percent.
Investors in the U.S. will likely be focusing on developments in Washington as politicians return to the nation's capital following the general election.
Top of re-elected President Barack Obama's in-tray is to fashion a deal with the Republicans who maintained their control of the House of Representatives. Their leader, Speaker John Boehner, said in brief remarks Wednesday that he may be ready to bargain.