August 20, 2012 / 12:27 AM / 6 years ago

European shares ease, euro helped by ECB story

A man is silhouetted in an electronic board showing the FTSE MIB Index for the Italian equity market in this photo illustration taken in Rome August 9, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

LONDON (Reuters) - European shares eased after last week’s strong performance on Monday while a report that the European Central Bank could set an interest rate threshold for purchases of euro zone bonds helped nudge up the euro and temper demand for German bonds.

European and global markets have had a recent strong run on hopes that a new plan being drawn up by the ECB, the central bank overseeing the 17 countries that use the euro, could finally help the bloc get on top of its debt troubles.

Top European stocks .FTEU3 opened slightly lower on Monday having closed at 13-month highs on Friday following their best week in seven years. The main indexes in the region were little changed with London .FTSE down 0.04 percent and Paris .FCHI and Frankfurt .GDAXI also lower. .EU .L .N

German government bond futures fell 36 ticks back towards last week’s lows, while Spanish bonds rallied, an indication of a rising appetite for risk.

The slide in Bunds was attributed report in Germany’s der Spiegel magazine over the weekend that the ECB’s new bond buying plan could include an upper limit on the price of troubled bonds, above which its purchases would kick in.

“Critical details about such a new instrument remain unclear - at least until the ECB’s September meeting,” said Commerzbank strategists in a note, adding that the prospect of such a scheme may boost risk sentiment in the short-term.

With many European policymakers on summer holidays, markets have had a respite from negative headlines.

While markets anticipate some conclusive action to calm the euro zone’s troubled bond markets to be announced at the ECB’s September 6 policy meeting, the focus this week is on a meeting between leaders of Greece and Germany on Friday, the same day Spain will give details of its ‘bad bank’ plans.

Reporting by Marc Jones; editing by Anna Willard

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