Stocks Zoom Higher on Data, Central Bank Enthusiasm

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The markets raced higher as traders cheered upbeat data from the U.S. and China as well as accommodative policy from global central banks.

Today’s Markets

As of 9:32 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 108 points, or 0.69%, to 15606, the S&P 500 jumped 13.2 points, or 0.79%, to 1699 and the Nasdaq Composite rallied 30.7 points, or 0.85%, to 3657.

The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday it would hold interest rates at record lows, and continue buying bonds at a rate of $85 billion a month. The move was followed Thursday morning by the European Central Bank and Bank of England also keeping benchmark rates at a historic lows.

The move comes amid a backdrop of modest improvement for the world economy. China’s official PMI report showed the pace of expansion in the manufacturing sector there picking up just slightly in July, with the gauge rising to 50.3 from 50.1. However, a private survey from HSBC indicated the factory sector in the world’s No. 2 economy contracted at an even quicker gate in July than the month prior. The metric slumped to 47.7 from 48.2.

Later in the day, traders will get a look at how the U.S. manufacturing sector is performing when the Institute for Supply Management provides its report at 10:00 a.m. ET. Economists forecast a mildly quicker growth pace in July than the month prior.

The Labor Department said claims for first-time jobless benefits fell to 326,000 from an upwardly revised 345,000 the week prior. Economists expected claims to rise to 345,000 from an initially reported 343,000. The data come out ahead of the all-important monthly jobs report on Friday. Analysts are expecting continued, but slow, job growth for the world’s biggest economy.

On the corporate front, ExxonMobil (XOM) revealed second-quarter profits that were well under expectations, paired with slightly better-than-expected revenues. Shares of the world’s biggest publicly-traded energy company came under pressure.

Procter & Gamble (PG), the consumer products giant, unveiled quarterly results that topped the Street’s estimates. The Big Three U.S. automakers also post monthly sales results on the day.

Elsewhere, U.S. crude oil futures zipped higher by $1.90, or 1.8%, to $106.95 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline jumped 1.3% to $3.034 a gallon. In metals, gold climbed $11.50, or 0.88%, $1,324 a troy ounce.

 

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