Europe close: Record finish for stocks as Fed hikes rates

Dot plot graph US Fed

The dollar was hovering at five-week lows against other major currencies on Friday, as the dovish tone of the Federal Reserve's latest policy statement continued to weigh and as investors eyed the release of USA data due later in the day.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX rose 0.7 percent and touched its highest level since December 2015, helped by the Fed's dovish tone and the Dutch election results.

The Fed is widely expected to increase interest rates (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-may-not-pull-any-punches-in-policy-statement-2017-03-13) late Wednesday.

Some traders had begin to suspect it would raise rates four times this year as the economy builds up steam.

Prospects for higher rates have generally been dollar-positive and gold-negative as a richer buck makes gold less attractive to investors using another currency.

The pound remained broadly supported after the Bank of England held interest rates at record lows on Thursday, but the meeting minutes showed the monetary policy committee was split on the decision. Its strongest since March 1, 0.2 percent higher on the day.

Ocado PLC shares (OCDO.LN) climbed 5% after the online grocery retailer said sales rose 13.1% in the 13 weeks through February 26 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ocado-sales-up-in-1st-quarter-sees-prices-rising-2017-03-14), although the company flagged signs of rising prices. "They haven't had balance sheet strength, in fact they haven't managed to have loan loss provisions that USA banks did early on in the cycle", Jonathan Bell, Chief Investment Officer at Stanhope Capital, told CNBC Wednesday.

Oil prices rose after six sessions of declines.

Hyundai recalls almost a million cars
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the seatbelts in those vehicles might detach during collisions. If the seat belt linkage detaches from the anchor pretensioner in a collision, the risk of injury to the occupant is increased.

Commodities The oil market is striving to break a six day losing streak that saw Brent crude prices slump 9.1 per cent amid concerns that Saudi Arabia was not adhering to an Opec production cut deal and that increasing output by U.S. drillers was adding to a glut.

MSCI's all-country world stock index gained 0.7 percent. Platinum was up 0.8 percent at $939.60 while palladium added 0.2 percent to reach $745.50.

The euro rose to $1.0740 while the dollar fell to 0.9980 franc against the Swiss currency. "The really interesting thing will be how hawkish the Fed sounds when they give the forecast of rate rises for the year", he said.

Prices on benchmark 10-year Treasuries fell 8/32 to yield 2.531 percent, up from 2.504 percent late on Wednesday.

Global benchmark Brent added nearly 0.1 per cent to $51.77 a barrel, and was headed for a 0.8 per cent weekly gain.

Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,229.40 an ounce by 2:53 p.m. EDT (1853 GMT), taking this week's gain so far to 2.1 percent.

The dollar index fell to a one-month low and was last at 100.560, down 1.1 percent.

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