US stocks end higher amid European optimism (Lead)January 13th, 2012 - 6:03 am ICT by IANS
New York, Jan 13 (IANS) US stocks ended higher Thursday as news from the Europe helped lift the market despite weak US economic data, reports Xinhua.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 21.57 points, or 0.17 percent, to 12,471.02. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 3.02 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,295.50.
The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 13.94 points, or 0.51 percent, to 2,724.70, logging six consecutive gains.
The US Commerce Department said Thursday that total retail sales increased 0.1 percent in December, after rising by an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in November, a little weaker than previously expected.
In a separate report, the agency said businesses inventories gained 0.3 percent in November, also missing previous expectations.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims jumped to 399,000 last week, the highest level in six weeks, which suggested that job market recovery still has some uncertainties.
However, news from Europe came as a relief. Italy successfully sold 12-month government bonds, with the lowest yield since June 2011.
Spain sold 4.2 billion euros in a new 3-year issue and 2.5 million euros in an existing bond maturing in 2016. The bonds auction also saw yields falling.
Also, the European Central Bank (ECB) left interest rates unchanged at 1.0 percent in its first policy meeting of the year, eliminating investors’ concerns about any possible changes of monetary policies.
ECB president Mario Draghi expressed his confidence in the effectiveness of the bank’s long-term lending operations. However, he also noted that ongoing financial market tensions continued to dampen economic activity in the euro area.
The optimism about the eurozone situation helped lift the market, offsetting the weakness of US economic data. Among key S&P; sectors, materials rallied, while energy led the decliners.
On other markets, the euro rebounded to one-week high against the dollar Thursday. The oil settled below $100 a barrel for the first time in 2012, as a report said embargo on Iran oil exports may be delayed. Gold was slightly up to settle above $1,650 per ounce.
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Tags: decliners, dow jones, dow jones industrial, dow jones industrial average, economic activity, economic data, government bonds, initial jobless claims, inventories, labor department, mario draghi, monetary policies, nasdaq composite index, optimism, retail sales, rose 13, s 500, six weeks, us commerce department, xinhua