Markets

Midday Update: ECB Jump-Starts Wall Street, Lifting Dow, S&P 500 to Record Highs

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Wall Street rose to new records Thursday thanks to a cut in European interest rates and comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi expressing his commitment to a highly accommodative monetary policy. Although the post-ECB reaction was relatively anemic, it still was enough to elevate both the S&P 500 and Dow Industrials to record levels and lift the Nasdaq Composite index into the plus column for the second consecutive day. It also helped overshadow a disappointing read on initial jobless claims.

For the week ended May 31, 312,000 Americans filed first-time unemployment claims. Although change from the prior week was less than expected - rising 8,000 rather forecasts for a 12,000 gain - the previous week's figures were revised higher and resulting in a larger number of applications than expected. Combined with Wednesday's below-consensus gain in ADP payrolls, hopes for tomorrow's non-farm payroll report have dimmed.

The big news, however, was in Europe where the European Central Bank shaved 10 basis points off short-term lending rates in an attempt to get banks to feed cash into a liquidity-starved economy. The knee-jerk reaction fueled impressive gains across most of Europe with the exception of the FTSE in the UK after the Bank of England declined to take any action at its policy meeting today.

Crude oil was down $0.12 to $102.52 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.02 to $4.65 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $9.40 to $1,253.60 an ounce, while silver was up $0.24 to $19.03 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $3.09 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.03% to $37.52 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 0.16% to $25.66. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 1.35% to 22.62 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.77% to $120.60. The iShares Silver Trust was up 1.44% to $18.33.

Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 63.46 (+0.59%) to 10,840.25

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 104.49 (+0.62%) to 16,842.02

S&P 500 up 12.85 (+0.67%) to 1,940.73

Nasdaq Composite Index up 44.71 (+1.05%) to 4,296.35

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 0.08%

Hang Seng Index down 0.18%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.79%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.08%

CAC 40 up 1.06%

DAX up 0.21%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.61%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.61%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.38%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) AXAS (+11.00%) Provided an operational update on its Eagle Ford and Williston Basin properties guidance update for 2014.

(+) UNXL (+33.98%) Company plans conference call to discuss multi-sensor films

(+) BRLI (+14.97%) Revenue and earnings topped analyst estimates

(+) MVIS (+12.49%) Announces design win with Fortune 500 electronics maker

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) LTM (-13.31%) Downgraded by Piper Jaffray to Neutral from Overweight, PT cut $5

(-) RAD (-9.12%) Said that profits will decline in higher drug costs

(-) VRA (-4.12%) Q1 revenue fell more than expected and the company forecast Q2 results below analysts' estimates while cutting its guidance for the fiscal year.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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