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US: Stocks rise on data, dovish ECB meeting

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks rose on Wednesday following a wave of mostly solid US data and a fresh confirmation of ultra-easy money policies by the European Central Bank.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 64.33 points (0.36 per cent) to 18,076.27.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 4.47 (0.21 per cent) at 2,114.07, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 22.71 (0.45 per cent) to 5,099.23.

Economic reports showed a big drop in the US trade deficit in April, slower growth in the US services sector in May and a solid 201,000 new private-sector jobs in May.

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book reported that the US economy returned to modest-to-moderate growth during April and May after stalling in the first quarter of the year.

ECB President Mario Draghi praised the bank's stimulus policies and said there were no plans to end them more quickly than planned.

"As long as you have a central bank providing monetary support, that's going to be a positive sign for investment in equity markets, be it European or US," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.

James attributed the rise in retail stocks to Tuesday's US auto sales report, which were stronger than expected and suggested stronger consumer spending ahead.

Best Buy rose 0.9 per cent, Dow member Home Depot added 1.4 per cent and Target and Williams-Sonoma both gained 0.4 per cent.

But petroleum stocks fell on a pullback in oil prices. Anadarko Petroleum fell 1.0 per cent, Chesapeake Energy lost 3.5 per cent and Occidental Petroleum dropped 1.4 per cent.

Dow member AT&T jumped 2.0 per cent following a report from Jefferies that praised its plans to acquire DirecTV.

Frontier Communications rose 4.3 per cent following an upgrade from DA Davidson.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.37 per cent from 2.26 per cent Tuesday, while the 30-year advanced to 3.10 per cent from 3.02 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

AFP