(RTTNews) - Stocks have moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday after ending the previous session nearly flat. The markets have benefited from a positive reaction to the latest news out of the European Central Bank along with a batch of upbeat U.S. economic data.
The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, hovering near their best levels of the day. The Dow is up 232.57 points or 1.8 percent at 13,280.05, the Nasdaq is up 60.08 points or 2 percent at 3,129.35 and the S&P 500 is up 26.07 points or 1.9 percent at 1,429.51.
The rally on Wall Street is partly due to a positive reaction to comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who outlined the central bank's highly anticipated bond purchasing program.
Draghi said the program would enable the ECB to address severe distortions in government bond markets and called it a "fully effective backstop to avoid destructive scenarios with potentially severe challenges for price stability."
The central bank will consider a bond purchase only when there is a request from a country. The size of the purchase is unlimited and sovereign bonds with maturities up to three years would qualify.
The markets have also benefited from the release of some upbeat U.S. economic data, including a report showing stronger than expected private sector job growth.
ADP said private sector employment increased by 201,000 jobs in August following a revised increase of 173,000 jobs in July. Economists had expected employment to increase by about 149,000 jobs compared to the addition of 163,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
The Labor Department released a separate report showing a bigger than expected drop in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended September 1st.
The release of the upbeat jobs data has generated some optimism about the outlook for the Labor Department's monthly jobs report, which includes government jobs. The report is expected to show an increase of about 125,000 jobs in August..
Additionally, the Institute for Supply Management released a report showing that the pace of service sector growth accelerated by more than anticipated in August.
The ISM said its non-manufacturing index rose to 53.7 in August from 52.6 in July, with a reading above 50 indicating an increase in activity in the service sector. Economists had been expecting the index to show a more modest increase to a reading of 53.0.
Most of the major sectors have shown strong moves to the upside on the day, reflecting broad based buying interest on Wall Street.
Semiconductor stocks are posting particularly strong gains in mid-day trading, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index up by 3.6 percent. The gain by the index comes after it ended the previous session at its lowest closing level in a month.
Micron (MU) and Rubicon Technology (RBCN) are turning in two of the semiconductor sector's best performances, surging up by 7.9 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.
Considerable strength is also visible among steel stocks, which are benefiting from optimism about the outlook for global demand. Reflecting the strength in the steel sector, the NYSE Arca Steel Index has jumped by 3.4 percent.
Banking stocks are also seeing significant strength on the day, driving the KBW Bank Index are up by 2.7 percent. Networking, chemical, and energy stocks are also posting notable gains.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Thursday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index closed only just above the unchanged line, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 0.3 percent and China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.7 percent.
The major European markets showed more substantial moves to the upside on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 2.1 percent, while the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 surged up by 2.9 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved sharply lower amid the rally on Wall Street. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 7.4 basis points at 1.668 percent.
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