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The major headlines in the stock market today include Europe's latest rescue effort, cautious optimism on U.S. jobs, and these big-name stocks leading the rally:
- ECB unveils unlimited bond buying plan– European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi announced in Frankfurt today (Thursday) that the ECB will embark on a drastic new bond-buying plan. The new program, called "Outright Monetary Transactions," allows the ECB to buy bonds with maturities between one and three years without announcing any limits in advance, as long as the government in question is under a program approved by the Eurozone. The plan is aimed at stabilizing interest rates in the euro area and will require countries such as Spain and Italy to request aid from the ECB to activate the bond purchases.
"Under appropriate conditions, we will have a fully effective backstop to avoid destructive scenarios with potentially severe challenges for price stability in the euro area," Draghi said at a press conference. "Governments must stand ready to activate the EFSF/ESM in the bond market when exceptional financial-market circumstances and risks to financial stability exist — with strict and effective conditionality. The ECB reserves the right to terminate bond purchases if governments don't fulfill their part of the bargain." The ECB held its benchmark rate at its record low level of 0.75%. Draghi announced that the ECB won't claim the status of a senior creditor if the bonds it buys have to be restructured and that the purchases will be "sterilized" meaning there will be no impact on the monetary supply.
- Jobs outlook improves- Heading into tomorrow's much anticipated U.S. jobs report the labor market got a boost today when the ADP employment number beat expectations. The payroll handling company announced that 201,000 private-sector jobs were created in August, ahead of the 173,000 added in July which was revised 10,000 jobs higher than originally reported. The Labor Department also reported that initial unemployment claims dropped 12,000 from last week to 365,000. While these numbers are positive many economists still expect Friday's jobs numbers to be disappointing and caution against putting too much into ADP's report. "Employment growth is still showing modest gains in this backdrop of uncertainty, both domestically and globally," Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo told CNN. "This is not a definite signal we'll see a stronger number this Friday." On average analysts expect 125,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were added in August.
- Financial stocks lead the surge- On the heels of the ECB's new bond-buying plan the S&P 500 is at its highest level since May 2008. Financial stocks Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NSYE: JPM) are the biggest Dow winners, both up over 4.5%. Other financials doing well are Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C), up almost 4% and Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), up 3%.
- Amazon to unveil new Kindle- Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) is expected to announce a new version of its tablet, the Kindle Fire 2, later today. After revealing that the company sold out of the original Fire earlier this week, Amazon is likely to unveil details of the new tablet at a press conference in Santa Monica, CA at 1 p.m. EDT. The new tablet could have a 10-inch screen instead of the current 7-inch one, include a camera, and offer a higher-resolution screen. AMZN stock is up 2.25% and reached a new all-time high today of $252.26.
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