By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose on Thursday after the European Central Bank said it would not raise interest rates until mid-2019, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve increased its key rate and hinted at two more hikes by the end of 2018.
The ECB decided to end its bond-purchase programme at the close of the year and said rates would stay unchanged until the summer of 2019.
The Fed's upbeat assessment of the economy was followed by Thursday's better-than-expected retail sales data while jobless claims showed unemployment rolls falling to a near 44-1/2 year low point, echoing the central bank's optimism.
The gains come on the heels of Wednesday's late session volatility as the number of expected Fed rate hikes this year rose from three to four, prompting a broad sell-off.
"Everyone's been worried about rising rates, but rising rates are indicative of economic growth and that's good news," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management in New York.
"I think the market is incorrect in believing that we're somehow in a secular stagnation story, when really we're in a stealth economic boom. And that will continue to drive markets higher," Cote said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 42.73 points, or 0.17 percent, to 25,158.47, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 5.42 points, or 0.20 percent, to 2,781.05 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 57.69 points, or 0.75 percent, to 7,753.39.
Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, seven were in positive territory.
The rate-sensitive financial sector <.SPSY> was the biggest percentage loser of the S&P 500, led by a 1.7 percent decline in JP Morgan Chase
Among sectors, the biggest percentage gainers were telecom <.SPLRCL> and utilities <.SPLRCU> and consumer discretionaries <.SPLRCD>.
Disney shares advanced 2.2 percent, providing the biggest boost to the Dow.
Shares of Royal Caribbean Cruises
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.26-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.09-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)