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VOL. 38 | NO. 48 | Friday, November 28, 2014

Stocks recover losses on ECB stimulus speculation

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NEW YORK (AP) — After being lower most of the morning, U.S. stocks were trading flat in Thursday afternoon trading after media reports said European Central Bank officials are considering a large stimulus package for next month. The reports followed comments from ECB President Mario Draghi, who said the bank was holding off on making any large moves until 2015.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was effectively unchanged at 17,909 as of 1:47 p.m. Eastern. It had been down almost 100 points earlier in the day. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down less than a point to 2,073 and the Nasdaq composite was up four points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,778.

EUROPE: Bloomberg News said ECB officials are considering a large bond-purchasing program that will include European government debt, citing unnamed central bank figures. The report follows the ECB's decision Thursday to keep its main interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.05 percent.

Draghi hinted at a news conference that the bank could act early next year. He said the ECB will reassess the success of its existing stimulus programs and the impact of low oil prices on Europe's economy. If needed, the ECB could do more, he said.

Draghi's comments and the Bloomberg News report indicate that the ECB is getting ready to make its own large-scale purchases of government bonds. The policy, known as quantitative easing, or "QE" among investors, has been used by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan.

ANALYST'S TAKE: Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics, also expects a program of sovereign debt purchases to be launched in January. "But whether it will be big and effective enough to revive the eurozone economy is another matter," he added.

PAYROLLS LOOMING: In the U.S., the main focus in the markets will be the November jobs report, which comes out Friday. Following some solid economic data on Wednesday from private payrolls firm ADP, economists expect that employers added 225,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate slipped to 5.7 percent from 5.8 percent.

Traders got another piece of jobs-related economic news Thursday. The number of people who filed for unemployment benefits fell by 17,000 to 297,000, the Labor Department said. A reading below 300,000 has been a signal to economists that hiring continues to pick up in the U.S.

"At current levels, (the jobless claims numbers) are consistent with a very low layoff rate and solid employment growth," Guy Berger and Michelle Girard, economists at RBS, wrote in a note to clients.

CLEARANCE: Barnes & Noble dropped 74 cents, or 3 percent, to $21.49 after the company terminated its commercial agreement with Microsoft for its Nook e-reader. Barnes & Noble bought out Microsoft's stake in the Nook for $120 million in cash and stock, freeing the company to spin off its Nook business down the road.

ENERGY: Oil prices resumed their slide. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 64 cents to $66.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude lost 51 cents to $69.41 a barrel.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.27 percent from 2.28 percent late Wednesday.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0