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President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi attends a press conference after a Eurogroup meeting in Athens, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)
President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi attends a press conference after a Eurogroup meeting in Athens, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)

At the open: S&P hits new high after ECB cuts rates below zero Add to ...

The S&P 500 hit an intraday record high for the seventh time in eight sessions on Thursday after the European Central Bank cut rates to record lows and outlined further accommodative monetary policy actions.

After mostly pricing in the ECB’s move, the market is expected to focus on Friday’s U.S. payrolls report for May as it looks for confirmation of a pick-up in hiring and economic activity in the second quarter.

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The ECB cut rates including the deposit rate to –0.10 per cent and will move further to persuade banks to lend. ECB head Mario Draghi said the bank’s governing council will intensify preparations related to outright purchases of asset-backed securities.

Futures had drifted higher after the rate cut and added to gains on Draghi’s remarks. The euro dropped against the U.S. dollar and yields on euro zone government debt fell.

“Often times when there’s high expectations, the (equities) market will sell on the news,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

“Draghi did not disappoint and in ‘do whatever it takes’ fashion he pulled out all the stops.”

Hogan added that the market is now focusing on Friday’s job report and he expects volumes to thin into the afternoon.

“We certainly want to see something better than what was reported on the ADP data,” he said.

Private employers added a much lower-than-forecast 179,000 jobs to their payrolls last month after hiring 215,000 workers in April, payrolls processor ADP said Wednesday.

Supporting the market, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, but the underlying trend continued to point to a firming labor market.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 24.17 points or 0.14 per cent, to 16,761.7, the S&P 500 gained 1.93 points or 0.1 per cent, to 1,929.81 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.98 points or 0.23 per cent, to 4,261.62.

In Toronto, the TSX fell 38.03 points to 14,758.76. The Canadian dollar was down 0.02 of a cent to 91.38 cents (U.S.).

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