Stocks rise on hopes of ECB stimulus

January 27 04:32 2015

Stocks moved higher in late morning trading Wednesday as traders were encouraged by reports that the European Central Bank was poised to unveil further stimulus measures. The ECB, which is meeting in Frankfurt, is expected to announce tomorrow that it will finally launch a Federal Reserve-style bond-buying program to stave off deflation and jumpstart the eurozone economy, which is flirting with recession.2013-11-04T131020Z_8_CBRE99U0VX000_RTROPTP_3_MARKETS-STOCKS_original

According to Bloomberg, the ECB may launch a program to buy 50 billion euros worth of sovereign bonds each month through the end of 2016. The Dow Jones industrial average was up about 25 points in late morning trading, after being down as much as 120 points earlier. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.5% and the Nasdaq composite index jumped 0.5%. This will be the third straight positive day for the major indexes if the gains hold.

Investors were also digesting another batch of mixed earnings reports. UnitedHealth Group (UNH) was the leading Dow component after the nation’s largest health insurer reported earnings that beat Wall Street expectations and forecast better-than-expected 2015 results. Shares jumped 2.6%. Overseas, a big rebound in Chinese shares helped lead most Asian stock markets higher Wednesday. The Shanghai Composite surged 4.7% to 3323.61 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.7% to close at 24,352.58.

Japan’s central bank said Wednesday it expects the economy to rebound in the coming fiscal year after contracting 0.5% this fiscal year, in an upbeat assessment that scuttled hopes for fresh stimulus. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5% to 17,280.48. European stocks were higher as markets bet on the ECB throwing the continent’s stricken economy another lifeline on Thursday. Britain’s FTSE 100 index jumped 1.3% and Germany’s DAX index gained 0.2%.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 37 cents to $46.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The February contract ended its last day of trading Tuesday by dropping $2.30 to close at $46.39 a barrel. Brent crude for March delivery, the international benchmark, rose 63 cents to $48.62 in London.