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Wall Street, bond prices jump as markets await ECB meeting

US stocks jumped to record levels and bond prices climbed on Wednesday as investors prepared for the European Central Bank to signal an extension of its bond-buying at its Thursday meeting.

The euro gained against the dollar as investors also waited for possible indications on when the ECB will begin paring bond purchases under its quantitative easing program.

Such a move might propel bond yields around the world higher. Prices on longer-dated US Treasuries rose Wednesday after disappointing overseas data hurt optimism about global growth.

“The market does not have a lot of clarity on what the ECB would do tomorrow,” said Jeffery Elswick, director of fixed income at Frost Investment Advisors in San Antonio, Texas.

The S&P 500 and Dow indexes hit records, with the biggest%age increases coming from the telecommunications and REIT sectors, heavy dividend payers.

“There’s a little bit of a bond market rally going on, certainly in the long end, so that means dividend stocks feel better,” said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. “People are short-covering ahead of the ECB announcements tomorrow. Lower rates on the continent (are) constructive for growth and good for equity.”

Healthcare was the sole S&P laggard after President-elect Donald Trump said in an interview he would bring down drug pricing.

“I think it is a new fact of life, going forward, that fundamentals can be swept aside any day by comments from the (President-elect),” said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 297.84 points, or 1.55%, to 19,549.62, the S&P 500 gained 29.12 points, or 1.32%, to 2,241.35 and the Nasdaq Composite added 60.76 points, or 1.14%, to 5,393.76.

Oil prices fell on bearish US petroleum inventory data and doubts that production cuts promised by Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia would be enough to drain a global crude glut.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, settled down 93 cents at $53 a barrel while US light crude settled down $1.16 at $49.77 a barrel.

The euro edged up 0.4% to $1.076. The dollar fell 0.3% against a basket of six major peers, as investors looked to next week’s US Federal Reserve meeting. The Fed is expected to raise interest rates but adopt a cautious tone on the economy.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield was down 5 basis points from late Tuesday at 2.342%. It had reached 2.492% on Dec. 1, the highest since July 2015.

The 30-year yield was 3.020%, down 6 basis points, on track for the biggest one-day drop since Aug. 29 when it fell 7.9 basis points, according to Reuters data.

Earlier, the pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.9% while Italy’s FTSE MIB share index gained 2%, helped by banking stocks.

Shares in Monte dei Paschi, Italy’s oldest bank, rose 10.8% after Reuters reported on Tuesday that Italy was preparing to take a 2-billion-euro controlling stake in the bank after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned because voters rejected his reform proposals.

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