European stocks, particularly those from euro zone countries, have had a wobbly start to the year. The STOXX 600—which covers European stocks from both inside and outside the euro zone and European Union—is down around 1.2 percent since the start of 2015, while the Euro STOXX 50—which tracks stocks across 12 euro zone countries—has fallen by a steeper 3.3 percent.
Markets are jittery in part because of Greece's upcoming national elections on January 25 which could push the country out of the euro zone and of the ECB's policy meeting this month, amid rumors that central bank President Mario Draghi could finally announce a U.S. Federal Reserve-style quantitative easing program.
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"The euro zone needs the continued strong support of the ECB to make progress. Even more, it needs either countries to implement the reforms they have promised (Spain, Portugal and Greece) or the laggards (France and Italy) to go ahead with adopting and then implementing reforms," said BNP Paribas.
Similarly to BNP Paribas, Oxford Economics forecast euro zone stock markets would rise this year, posting similar gains to Wall Street, supported by an improving regional economic outlook and more ECB stimulus.
"Policy has become much more supportive since the summer, allowing monetary growth to recover to its former 'reference value' of around 4.5 percent (on a 6-month annualised basis)," said Adam Slater, senior economist, in a forward-looking Oxford Economics report published at the end of last year.