Dow Jones Industrial Average Rises Sharply as Investors Reassess ECB Plan

Dow JonesThe Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose more than one percent today as oil prices increased and investors adopted a more positive perspective of the European Central Bank’s recent stimulus measures.

As of 3:08 p.m. in New York, the Dow gained 1.2% to 17,193. The S&P 500 increased 1.5% to 2,018, while the tech heavy NASDAQ jumped 1.6% at 4,737.

Nine stocks advanced for every issue that declined on the 30-member Dow Jones index, which also showed two new 52-week highs.

The S&P 500 Energy Sector was the biggest riser on the S&P measure with a 2.1% gain, thanks to the oil rally.

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:APC) soared as much as 11% to $47.13. Goldman Sachs upgraded the independent exploration and production company’s rating on the stock to “buy” from neutral and raised its price target to $58 from $50.

April West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. oil benchmark, added 1.7% to settle at $38.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude rose after the International Energy Agency said oil prices might have bottomed.

Yesterday morning, the European Central Bank (ECB) cut its key lending rate, known as the refi rate, from 0.05% to zero to add stimulus for the eurozone economy. Later yesterday, ECB President Mario Draghi signaled an end to further rate cuts.

In commodities, April gold declined 1.1% to settle at $1,259 a troy ounce.

In U.S. economic data, import prices decreased 0.3% in February from the prior month after falling a revised one percent in January, the Labor Department said today.

Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc. (NASDAQ:ULTA) jumped 17.3% to an all-time intraday high of $191.70 after the beauty product retailer’s quarterly sales topped estimates.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:REGN) increased 1.6% to $383.58. The integrated biopharmaceutical company said its rheumatoid arthritis drug had met its primary endpoint as being superior to a competitor’s drug in improving signs and symptoms of the disease.

American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), a Dow company, rose as much as 2% to $59.91. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Chenault said his company will expand lending to U.S. consumers and businesses and accelerate acceptance by merchants, following a disappointing year.

Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL) fluctuated after saying it plans to lay off another 3,300 to 3,800 workers through 2017.

Investors are now eyeing the U.S. Federal Reserve, which is set to meet on March 15th and 16th to decide on interest rates.

The Fed has said it is on track to raise rates gradually this year, but its decision will depend on the health of the world’s largest economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index, together with the S&P 500, and the NASDAQ, has bounced back approximately 10% since they hit a six-month low on February 11, and they are all about to erase all losses they incurred this year.