Major stock markets rallied on Thursday as traders toasted some strong earnings as well as takeover talk, offsetting concerns about the need for more interest-rate hikes to cool strong inflation.

London continued its march towards reaching 8,000 points for the first time, while there were even stronger gains for eurozone and Asian indices.

Leading the way in London was Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered – its share price up nearly nine per cent in late morning deals. "Standard Chartered has surged to the top of the FTSE 100 on a report from Bloomberg that First Abu Dhabi bank is considering a $35 billion offer for the British lender," said Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor. 

Also in London, shares in AstraZeneca rallied almost five per cent after the pharmaceuticals giant posted rocketing annual profits.

Shares in Credit Suisse tanked, however, after Switzerland's second-biggest bank posted its biggest annual loss since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Mumbai-listed conglomerate Adani tumbled again – this time by more than 11 per cent – after global stock index compiler MSCI said it was reviewing the status of equities in the group. The business empire of Indian billionaire Gautam Adani has lost more than $100 billion in value after US short-selling investment group Hindenburg Research accused it of artificially inflating share prices. 

Disney will be a strong focus when Wall Street reopens after the entertainment giant late on Wednesday said it was laying off 7,000 employees. The job cuts follow similar moves by US tech giants dialling back from a hiring spurt during the height of the COVID pandemic.

The market seems pleased returning chief executive officer Bob Iger is grabbing the mouse by the ears and announcing a big shake-up at Disney judging by the share price action in after-hours trading- Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell

"The market seems pleased returning chief executive officer Bob Iger is grabbing the mouse by the ears and announcing a big shake-up at Disney judging by the share price action in after-hours trading," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

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