NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rose in morning trading on Thursday, boosted by a combination of positive economic news from the U.S. and expectations of stimulus from Europe’s central bank. The price of oil is also showing signs of stabilizing after six months of heavy losses. After two days of gains, the market has recovered the considerable ground it lost in the first few days of trading.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 climbed 34 points, or 1.7 percent, to 2,059 as of 11:25 a.m. Eastern. The gains erased the index’s losses for the year. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 286 points, or 1.6 percent, to 17,872. The Nasdaq composite climbed 76 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,727.
JOBS OUTLOOK: Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that employers expect the economy to keep growing, requiring them to hold on to workers. The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for unemployment benefits fell 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 294,000.
Economists forecast that a government report Friday will show that U.S. employers added 243,000 jobs last month.
EUROPE BOOST: Markets continued to rise a day after European data showed consumer prices fell in December for the first time since 2009. That increases pressure on the European Central Bank to provide more stimulus for the region’s flagging economy. Many analysts expect the bank to announce a plan this month to buy European government bonds in an attempt to hold down long-term interest rates and stimulate borrowing and spending.
THE REBOUND: After two days of strong gains, the stock market regained the big losses that it made in the first few trading days of the year. The Dow lost 460 points in the first two days of this week.
Minutes of the Federal Reserve December meeting released Wednesday show that Fed officials believed stagnant global growth posed one of the biggest downside risks to the U.S., particularly if it triggered turmoil in global financial markets or if any policy moves abroad proved ineffective.
THE QUOTE: The minutes were a clarification of the Federal Reserve’s “persistent message” that it would do all that it could to support not just the U.S. economy, but also the global economy, said Marc Zabicki, senior market strategist at Ameriprise.
“That reference and that understanding, and that global view of the Federal Reserve, has been a boon to equities today,” he said.
EUROPEAN MARKETS: France’s CAC 40 jumped 3.6 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 climbed 2.4 percent. Germany’s DAX gained 3.3 percent.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil was stable after falling to its lowest in nearly six years earlier in the weak. The plunge in oil prices the past three months has unnerved markets as it suggests weakness in the global economy. Part of the fall, however, is due to oversupply as energy companies maintain production levels to avoid losing market share. Benchmark U.S. crude was little changed at $48.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 72 cents to close at $48.65 on Wednesday. The price of oil has fallen by more than half since June.
REAPING DIVIDENDS: Ford said that it would pay investors a dividend of 15 cents a share in the first quarter. That’s an increase of 20 percent from the quarterly dividends paid last year. The company’s stock rose 42 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $15.46.
CHEERS: Constellation Brands, a beverage company whose brands include Corona and Negra Modelo beers, raised its full-year profit outlook. The company’s stock rose $5.48, or 5.3 percent, or $108. 53.
BONDS: In government bond trading, prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.02 percent from 1.97 on Wednesday.
CURRENCIES: The euro dropped to $1.1789 from $1.1842 late Wednesday. The common European currency has fallen to a nine-year low due to the expectations of more central bank stimulus, which tends to weaken a currency. The dollar rose to 119.57 yen from 119.29 yen.