U.S. Stocks Advance to Begin March After Third Monthly Decline

U.S. stocks rose, rebounding after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index capped its third consecutive month of losses, amid investor optimism about central bank support.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.7 percent to 1,946.57 at 9:32 a.m. in New York, after sliding 0.8 percent on Monday. Equities erased a monthly gain yesterday as declines in banks and health-care stocks put the brakes on a two-week comeback.

The S&P 500 enters March lugging its longest stretch of monthly declines since 2011, as equities have been beset this year by worries that China’s slowing economy will hurt growth around the globe, a concern compounded by tumbling commodity prices. That’s led investors to anticipate more support from policy makers, and China’s central bank yesterday cut banks’ reserve requirements, freeing up funds to help spur lending.

A rebound in oil prices in the final two weeks of February helped the U.S. equity benchmark to recover most of its losses last month, which reached as much as 5.7 percent. While the index is still 5.6 percent above a Feb. 11 low through Monday, it was 9.3 percent off an all-time high reached last May. A measure of volatility has jumped 13 percent this year.

Source : Bloomberg

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Europe Stocks Rise as Draghi Says Bond-Buying to Begin Next Week

European stocks advanced for a second day, pushing the Stoxx Europe 600 Index to its highest level since July 2007, as the European Central Bank committed to begin asset purchases on March 9.

The Stoxx 600 rose 0.8 percent to 393.78 at the close of trading. The gauge has rallied 15 percent this year after the ECB said it would start a quantitative-easing program. At the same time, economic data are topping forecasts by the most in two years, according to Citigroup Inc.’s Surprise Index.

The ECB kept interest rates unchanged at record lows today. The central bank will begin asset purchases next week, including some debt with negative yields, amounting to 60 billion euros ($ 66 billion) a month, President Mario Draghi told reporters in Nicosia, Cyprus. He also unveiled forecasts showing higher economic growth with an inflation outlook that puts the ECB on track to reach its goal of just below 2 percent in 2017.

Germany’s DAX Index rose 1 percent to a record close. Portugal’s PSI 20 Index jumped 1.7 percent, for the best performance of 18 western-European markets. The volume of Stoxx 600 shares changing hands was 8.7 percent lower than the 30-day average.

Source: Bloomberg

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