(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 15, 2020 a sign is seen outside the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, DC.Massive government aid has provided liquidity to support economies during the Covid-19 pandemic, but also caused stock prices to surge beyond their value, the IMF cautioned on April 6, 2021. The "unprecedented policy support may have unintended consequences," including "excessive risk taking in markets," the International Monetary Fund said.

London (AFP) - European equities rallied Tuesday as the IMF raised its economic outlooks and US jobs data underscored brighter prospects for the world’s biggest economy.

Stock market indices in Frankfurt, London and Paris rose as dealers returned from a four-day Easter weekend, while in New York, the Dow Jones index struggled to reach the breakeven point.

“A tremendous amount of optimism has been priced in as the US economy is poised to run very hot throughout the summer,” commented senior market analyst Edward Moya at Oanda.

The latest upbeat figure was the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) which indicated that US job openings had surged to a two-year high in February, well above the level expected by most analysts.

“Hiring is at a torrid pace even before the majority of the public is vaccinated,” Moya remarked.

The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 indices were both in the black in midday New York trading, but the Dow Jones index of US blue-chip stocks remained slightly in the red after closing at an all-time high on Monday.

Back in Europe however, markets “had a proverbial spring in their step as they returned from the Easter break,” Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell noted.

The International Monetary Fund forecast meanwhile that the 19-nation eurozone economy would grow by 4.4 percent this year, slightly stronger than previously expected.

The IMF also anticipates growth in the US to reach 6.4 percent.

Elsewhere, investors have taken heart from progress made in vaccinating people in the United States and Britain, which should allow governments there to ease containment measures.

Earlier in the day, stock markets had gained ground in many Asian markets, though Tokyo was lower as traders locked in profits following recent gains.

Oil prices rallied as analysts considered that the chances of a breakthrough in Iran nuclear talks were slim.

Both contracts had tumbled last week on the prospects that Iranian crude could return to markets if negotiations on the accord progressed smoothly and sanctions on the country were eased.

- Key figures around 1700 GMT -

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,970.42 points

New York - Dow: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 33,507.85

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.3 percent at 6,823.55 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.5 percent at 6,131.34 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.7 percent at 15,212,68 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.8 percent at 29,696.63 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: FLAT at 3,482.97 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: Closed for a holiday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1850 from $1.1813 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3841 from $1.3900

Euro/pound: UP at 85.62 pence from 84.99 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.84 yen from 110.18 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.8 percent at $63.29 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.1 percent at $59.90