U.S. stocks rose, sending benchmark indexes to records, as the European Central Bank vowed to increase stimulus efforts if needed and a drop in American jobless claims bolstered optimism in the economy.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.4 percent to 2,031.03 at 4 p.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 68.98 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,553.51. Trading in S&P 500 companies was 4 percent below the 30-day average for this time of the day.
“The policy and macro news were both positive, and that’s giving the market something of a positive bias as we go through the day,” Alan Gayle, who helps oversee about $50 billion as a senior strategist at RidgeWorth Capital Management, said in a phone interview from Atlanta. “Outside of the U.S., other major players are taking aggressive policy steps to stabilize and re- accelerate growth, and that’s putting a floor under the equity markets.”
Draghi faces pressure to do more to support a slowing euro-area economy after the Bank of Japan last week unexpectedly boosted its stimulus plan. Draghi said policy makers will be ready to implement further stimulus measures if needed as he signaled officials may cut growth forecasts next month. ECB officials were unanimous on more stimulus if needed, Draghi told reporters today after keeping interest rates unchanged.
In stressing unanimity, Draghi is seeking to smooth over divisions in his own ranks about the precise way the ECB can aid the economy more, as pessimism about the outlook builds. While the central bank is already expanding its range of asset purchases, it has yet to commit to broad-based bond buying, or quantitative easing.
The S&P 500 and Dow climbed to records yesterday after election results shifted control of the Senate from Democrats to Republicans while a report showed improvement in the labor market.
The benchmark index has rebounded 9 percent from a six- month low on Oct. 15. S&P 500 companies are beating analysts’ earnings estimates at the fastest pace in four years, while recent economic data have pointed to improvements in the U.S. labor market and consumer sentiment.
First-time jobless claims dropped 10,000 to a three-week low of 278,000 in the week ended Nov. 1, the Labor Department reported today. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 285,000. The four-week moving average, a less-volatile measure of job cuts, reached the lowest level in more than 14 years.
Labor Department figures tomorrow may show nonfarm payrolls rose 235,000 last month and that the jobless rate probably held at a six-year low.
Of the S&P 500 members that have reported their latest quarterly results, 80 percent topped profit projections, while 60 percent beat sales estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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