NEW YORK (AP) — More positive earnings surprises from U.S. companies are helping send stocks higher in early trading. European stocks rose after the European Central Bank announced more stimulus measures.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 67 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,068 as of 10:19 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 9 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,998. The Nasdaq composite increased 23 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,697.
EUROPE'S DAY: Germany's DAX climbed 1.5 percent while the CAC-40 in France spiked 1.7 percent. In Britain, which isn't part of the euro, the FTSE 100 was flat.
BOLD ECB: The central bank that governs the euro currency surprised financial markets by cutting the main refinancing rate to zero from 0.05 percent. It also reduced the interest rate on commercial bank deposits held at the central bank to minus 0.4 percent from minus 0.3 percent. It also expanded its monthly bond-buying program to 80 billion euros ($85 billion) a month from 60 billion euros.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "The central bank came out all guns blazing," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. "The decision to ease monetary policy across a broad range of tools sent a strong message to the markets that it is not willing to sit by while they repeatedly fall well short of their 2 percent inflation target."
RETAIL WIN: Dollar General rose $5.45, or 7 percent, to $80.66 after the company reported that its fourth quarter profit rose almost 6 percent, topping Wall Street expectations, as customer traffic and transaction amounts increased.
BOOM BOX: Cloud storage company Box Inc. rose $1.03, or 8 percent, to $13.55 after reporting results that beat estimates.
YIELD DROPS: Government bond prices are rising across Europe on news of the ECB's latest stimulus package, pushing yields lower. The yield on Spain's 10-year note fell to 1.47 percent from 1.56 percent the day before. The yield on France's 10-year note fell to 0.51 percent from 0.55 percent.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 closed 1.3 percent higher. Australia's S&P ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent lower, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.1 percent and South Korea's Kospi added 0.8 percent.
ENERGY: U.S. crude shed 76 cents, or 2 percent, to $37.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped 4.9 percent on Wednesday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost 98 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $40.09 a barrel.
BONDS: U.S government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.90 percent. In currency trading, the euro rose to $1.1114 from $1.0996 late Wednesday and the dollar rose to $113.80 yen from 113.40 yen.