S&P 500, Dow Hit Intraday Record Highs

Markets Dow Jones Newswires

European Central Bank's surprise interest-rate cuts and new bond-buying program sent the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average to intraday record highs.

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Markets took the rate move as a positive sign that European central bank was eager to act in order to revive the eurozone's sluggish economy by countering falling inflation. The move overshadowed slightly softer-than-expected reports in the U.S. labor market ahead of the monthly jobs report set to be released Friday.

Ebullience over the European rate cuts are lifting major US indexes to new heights. The S&P 500 (SPX) rose 8.5 points, or 0.4%, higher to 2,009.22, topping it previous closing record, reached on Aug. 29. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) added 57 points, or 0.3%, to 17,136.50, topping its previous record closing high, reached on July 16.

The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) gained 26 points, or 0.6%, to 4,598.93.

Marty Leclerc, chief investment officer at Barrack Yard Advisors, said that ECB's actions to revive the eurozone economy are good for U.S. equities as a stronger economy there would benefit multinational companies.

Leclerc cautioned that overall, valuations in U.S. equities are already high, meaning long-term return expectations are low.

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Market-moving economic news: The European Central Bank unexpectedly lowered key interest rates . Also read: Draghi unveils plan to buy covered bonds, ABS after rate cut.

Thursday's key U.S. economic report is ADP's report on hiring in the private sector, which showed a slowdown during August. The country's largest payroll-processing firm said the private sector added 204,000 jobs in August, which was below the 215,000 jobs expected.

Weekly jobless claims numbers rose slightly more than expected, but remain near an eight-year low.

Those reports are merely a prelude to the closely-watched August jobs report on Friday. Economists on average are forecasting that .

Separately, the U.S. trade deficit declined in July, and the June gap was revised lower, offering evidence that trade was slightly less of a drag on the nation's growth during the summer than initially reported.

U.S. services and other nonmanufacturing companies reported faster growth for August, with a gauge of their activity hitting the highest pace since 2008, according to a survey of senior executives released Thursday.

The slew of reports will lead up to a speech by Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Mester, who is a voting member of the Fed policy committee, will talk about her economic outlook at the Economic Club of Pittsburgh. This will mark Mester's second public speaking event since she took over as head of the Cleveland Fed on June 1, a Goldman Sachs research report noted.

Stocks to Watch: PVH Corp. (PVH) shares jumped 10% after the apparel company's second-quarter earnings, which were reported late Wednesday, beat expectations.

Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) shares rose after the homebuilder beat estimates for the third-quarter profits. (Read more about the day's notable stock moves here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-picks-nevada-for-battery-plant-gannett-announces-layoffs-2014-09-04.)

Other markets: European stocks rose after the ECB decision. Asian stocks ended mixed, with the Nikkei Average in Tokyo down by 0.3%.

Euro (EURUSD) fell sharply against the dollar after the rate-cut decision.

Oil futures (CLV4) were modestly lower, and gold futures (GCZ4) were little changed.