Stocks continued to rally for a second day as bullish economic fundamentals in the U.S. coupled with expectations the European Central Bank will add more liquidity later this month drove all three of the major indices above their respective 50-day moving averages.
Wall Street ignored a miss for the latest initial jobless claims, instead looking forward to tomorrow's non-farm payrolls report for December, expected to increase by more than 200,000 for the 11th consecutive month. For the latest survey week, 294,000 Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits, slightly more than the 290,000 the financial markets were expecting. For the week ended December 27, new claims were unchanged at 298,000.
Equities are also building on yesterday's positive reaction to the December FOMC minutes in which the Fed maintained a "patient" course toward higher U.S. rates while at the same time praising the U.S.'s continued economic performance in the face of headwinds from Europe and possible fall-out from lower oil prices .
Europe's equity markets were also significantly higher as investors continue to place bets that recent EU-zone inflation data along with today's bleak German factory orders data will encourage ECB President Draghi to finally commence large scale EU sovereign debt purchases. Euro-zone bourses are more than 3% higher, surpassing a 2.34% rally in the UK's FTSE-100.
Crude oil was down $0.20 to $48.49 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.06 to $2.92 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $3.20 to $1,213.80 an ounce, while silver was down $0.09 to $16.46 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $2.76 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.06% to $18.38 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 1.58% to $14.81. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 1.57% to 20.44 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.15% to $116.60. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.57% to $15.76.
Here's where the U.S. markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index up 161.86 (+1.52%) to 10,788.99
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 279.55 (+1.59%) to 17,864.07
S&P 500 up 31.44 (+1.55%) to 2,057.34
Nasdaq Composite Index up 77.28 (+1.66%) to 4,727.75
Nikkei 225 Index up 1.67%
Hang Seng Index up 0.65%
Shanghai China Composite Index down 2.39%
FTSE 100 Index up 2.36%
CAC 40 up 3.59%
DAX up 3.36%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index up 2.10%
NYSE Financial Sector Index up 1.02%
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 1.88%
(+) BIND (+63.11%) Reports progress for non-small cell lung cancer treatment, expects more milestone payments.
(+) BIOD (+22.83%) Reported positive results from Phase 2a trial of concentrated insulin BIOD-531.
(+) NBIX (+18.56%) Released results of successful Phase 3 joint trial of elagolix drug with AbbeVie ( ABBV ).
(+) ELOS (+23.29%) Expects Q4 revenue above consensus estimates.
(+) CJJD (+10.41%) Reaches online payment agreement with China's Alipay.
(-) KATE (-6.11%) BMO Capital downgraded to Market Perform due to "mounting headwinds."
(-) APOL (-13.31%) Reported below consensus Q10020sales and weak guidance.
(-) INFI (-8.33%) Failed to meet primary endpoint in arthritis study.
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