Investing.com - U.S. stocks ended Thursday higher on the coattails of better-than-expected jobless claims numbers and assurances from the European Central Bank that it will do what it takes to steer its economy away from deflationary decline.
At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow 30 rose 0.40%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.38%, while the NASDAQ Composite index rose 0.38%.
The CBOE Volatility Index index, which measures the outlook for market volatility, was down 3.53% at 13.67.
ECB President Mario Draghi said earlier that the monetary authorities would soon begin purchasing asset-backed securities to prop up the economy and added the the program will run for two years and have a "sizeable impact" on the ECB's balance sheet.
The bank's governing council is unanimously committed to taking further "timely measures" if needed, which sent stocks gaining on expectations for Europe to keep monetary policy loose to prop up the economy.
The ECB's current stimulus program includes purchases of asset-backed securities and covered bonds, though markets are keeping a close eye out for plans to announce purchases of government debt, known as quantitative easing, which would boost stocks by suppressing long-term interest rates.
The ECB left rates on hold at record lows at its policy meeting earlier Thursday, as widely expected.
Meanwhile back home, stocks rose on news that the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week fell more than expected, fueling optimism over the strength of the labor market.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported earlier that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending Nov. 1 decreased by 10,000 to 278,000 from the previous week's revised total of 288,000.
Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 3,000 to 285,000 last week.
The number of Americans applying for new jobless benefits held below 300,000 for the eighth consecutive week, a sign that recovery in the labor market may be gaining momentum.
Continuing jobless claims in the week ended Oct. 25 fell to 2.348 million from 2.387 million in the preceding week. Analysts had expected continuing claims to decline to 2.360 million.
The four-week moving average came to 279,000, a decline of 2,250 from the previous week's total of 281,250. The monthly average is seen as a more accurate gauge of labor trends because it reduces volatility in the week-to-week data.
Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), up 2.07%, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), up 1.74%, and Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD), up 1.58%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performers included American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), down 0.90%, Merck & Company Inc (NYSE:MRK), down 0.60%, and AT&T Inc (NYSE:T), down 0.59%.
European indices, meanwhile, ended the day higher.
After the close of European trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.34%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.46%, while Germany's DAX rose 0.66%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 rose 0.18%.
On Friday, expect markets to track the U.S. October jobs report.
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