S&P 500, Nasdaq edge higher as ECB puts off rate hike

S&P 500, Nasdaq edge higher as ECB puts off rate hike

NYSE Jun14
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK: The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose on Thursday (Jun 14) after the European Central Bank said it would not raise interest rates until mid-2019, a day after the US Federal Reserve increased its key rate and hinted at two more hikes by the end of 2018.

The ECB decided to end its bond-purchase programme at the close of the year and said rates would stay unchanged until the summer of 2019.

The Fed's upbeat assessment of the economy was followed by Thursday's better-than-expected retail sales data while jobless claims showed unemployment rolls falling to a near 44-1/2 year low point, echoing the central bank's optimism.

The gains come on the heels of Wednesday's late session volatility as the number of expected Fed rate hikes this year rose from three to four, prompting a broad sell-off.

"Everyone's been worried about rising rates, but rising rates are indicative of economic growth and that's good news," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management in New York.

"I think the market is incorrect in believing that we're somehow in a secular stagnation story, when really we're in a stealth economic boom. And that will continue to drive markets higher," Cote said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 25.89 points (0.10 per cent) to 25,175.31, the S&P 500 gained 6.86 points (0.25 per cent) to 2,782.49 and the Nasdaq Composite added 65.34 points (0.85 per cent) to 7,761.04.

Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, seven were in positive territory.

The rate-sensitive financial sector was the biggest percentage loser of the S&P 500, led by a 1.7 per cent decline in JP Morgan Chase shares, as U.S. Treasury yields fell on news that the ECB holding rates steady for longer than many investors expected.

Among sectors, the biggest percentage gainers were telecom and utilities and consumer discretionaries .

Microsoft Corp shares helped the tech sector advance, rising 0.5 per cent on news that it was working on technology to automate retail purchases in a challenge to Amazon.com .

Twenty-First Century Fox was up 1.9 per cent after Comcast offered US$65 billion in an effort to out-bid Walt Disney Co's merger offer by 20 per cent.

Disney shares advanced 2.2 per cent, providing the biggest boost to the Dow.

Shares of Royal Caribbean Cruises jumped 5.7 per cent after the company bought a 66.7 per cent stake in privately-held Silversea Cruises for about US$1 billion.

Boeing Co was the biggest drag on the Dow, down 0.6 per cent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.26-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.09-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 33 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 144 new highs and 23 new lows.

Source: Reuters