Wall St up ahead of ECB meet

Trader Andrew Silverman works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. File photo / AP
Trader Andrew Silverman works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. File photo / AP

Wall Street was up overnight, along with the price of oil, as investors anticipated a promise by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi to bolster monetary stimulus at its meeting this week.

Those expectations could backfire.

"There's talk of rates cuts, increasing the size of the asset-purchase program, and expanding the range of products that the ECB will buy," Daniel Murray, the London-based head of research at EFG Asset Management, told Bloomberg "Let's see tomorrow how good Draghi is at playing the market. He has built up expectations before and found them hard to meet."

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In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a 0.5 percent gain from the previous close.

The UK's FTSE 100 Index rose 0.3 percent as did Germany's DAX Index, while France's CAC 40 Index advanced 0.5 percent.

Wall Street also gained. In 1.13pm New York trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.3 percent. In 12.58pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 0.3 percent.

US Treasuries fell, pushing yields on the 10-year note four basis points higher to 1.87 percent,

The Dow moved higher as gains in shares of Chevron and those of Cisco, last up 4.6 percent and 2.3 percent respectively, outweighed slides in shares of Nike and those of Goldman Sachs, last down 2.3 percent and 1.4 percent respectively.

The ECB policy meeting comes as their US Federal Reserve counterparts are set to gather next week. While economists expect the Fed to keep rates steady next week, recent economic data have heightened bets for rate hikes this year.

Meanwhile, a stronger US dollar spurred by a further quantitative easing by the ECB, helps too.

"If the ECB does more easing -- as we expect them to do -- then the Fed will worry mainly about what that does to the dollar," Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank in New York, told Bloomberg.

To be sure, a Commerce Department showed US wholesale inventories unexpectedly rose in January, rising 0.3 percent. Wholesale inventories were unchanged in December after a revision from a previously reported decline of 0.1 percent. Sales fell 1.3 percent, following a 0.6 percent decline in December.

"Plenty of inventory pain remains in the pipeline," Michael Englund, chief economist at Action Economics in Boulder, Colorado, told Reuters. "Wholesale inventory growth has beaten sales growth since mid-2014 to leave a steep inventory-to-sales ratio spike that is usually only seen in recessions."

Oil rose after an Energy Information Administration showed gasoline supplies fell by a larger-than-expected 4.53 million barrels last week.

Shares of Chesapeake Energy soared, last up 7.2 percent in New York, after Bloomberg reported the company is considering selling some of its assets in Oklahoma's Stack shale field.

The Oklahoma City-based company recently interviewed advisers to oversee a potential sale, Bloomberg reported, citing the people who asked not to be identified because the matter isn't public. It has also held informal talks with potential buyers, they said.

- BusinessDesk

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