* MSCI world share index just under June 2008 high
* European shares edge up, euro steady as investors book
* Markets look to ECB, BoE meetings for signs of stimulus
By Marc Jones
LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - European stock markets rose to
their highest since the 2008 financial crisis on Wednesday,
helped by signs the U.S. economy is improving and expectations
of more pledges of support for growth from major central banks.
The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank
of Japan are all expected to stick to ultra-easy monetary policy
at meetings this week, following on from reassurances by U.S.
Federal Reserve officials that their stimulus programme remains
Analysts even see some scope for fresh action in Europe on
Thursday, giving a 40 percent chance for more bond buying from
the Bank of England and a 10 percent likelihood
of an interest rate cut from the ECB.
That drove Wall Street's Dow Jones industrial index to an
all-time high on Tuesday and indices of both world and
European shares inched up further on Wednesday.
"It's panic buying," said Nick Xanders, who heads up
European equity strategy at BTIG. "At this stage everyone wants
to buy it, everyone wants to get involved and everyone is scared
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 gained 0.2 percent with
London's FTSE 100 Paris's CAC-40 inching up
0.3-0.4 percent and Frankfurt's DAX surging 0.9
"Indexes are breaking above big resistance levels and this
is creating room on the upside," said Lionel Jardin, head of
institutional sales at Assya Capital, in Paris.
"The sentiment is that central banks are going to remain
very accommodative for a while, and at the same time companies
are in really good shape, with strong cashflows."
Still, with the ECB's meeting in view and worries over the
euro zone's debt crisis again on the rise due to Italy's
political deadlock, German government bonds recovered some poise
after a selloff in the previous session.
The Bund future was flat on the day at 145.03 after
dropping by around half a point on Tuesday.
In the currency market, the euro was also steady at
$1.3048 as traders waited to see whether the recent
disappointing economic data and ongoing debt worries will be
enough to see the ECB surprise consensus and cut rates on
Italian centre-left leader Bersani - the man who won most
votes in last week's fractured election - also presents his
policy plans to his PD party later. It could be significant if
he produces enough for populist leader Beppe Grillo to support
on an ad hoc basis.
"There's reasonable downside to the euro. The situation in
Italy is still uncertain," said Bill Diviney, currency
strategist at Barclays.
"Although we don't expect any big changes to President
Draghi's stance but he's going to stay fairly dovish given
uncertainties," he added.