NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market edged higher in early trading Thursday, a day ahead of the government's closely watched monthly jobs report. Major markets in Europe rose and the euro weakened against the dollar after the European Central Bank took new steps to boost the region's sluggish economy.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,933, as of 11:27 a.m. Eastern time Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 56 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,793. The Nasdaq composite rose 15 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,266. All three indexes had been slightly lower in mid-morning trading.
EUROPEAN MARKETS: Germany's main stock index, the DAX, rose 0.3 percent, while France's CAC 40 gained 1.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 edged down 0.1 percent.
NEW MOVES: The European Central Bank cut two key interest rates on Thursday, pushing one of them into negative territory. In an unprecedented move, the ECB dropped the rate it pays on money deposited by banks from zero to minus 0.1 percent, essentially charging banks for their deposits in an effort to prod them into lending money instead of hoarding it.
The central bank also said it was willing to take more steps to support the region's economy if needed, including buying bonds.
IMMEDIATE RESPONSE: "The world looks to be a safer place today," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York, in a note to clients. "If you lend money out, the ECB has money for you."
ON SALE: PVH, the company behind the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, cut its profit forecast late Wednesday, blaming the global economy and a rough winter in the U.S. for weaker sales. The retailer put more clothes on sale, which pinched profit margins. PVH's stock sank $9.79, or 8 percent, to $120.79.
BETTER, BUT: Joy Global, a maker of mining equipment, reported a big drop in quarterly profits and sales as coal miners scaled back operations. But Joy Global's results were still better than analysts had expected. The company's stock gained $3.53, or 6 percent, to $61.37.
JOBS: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits crept up last week to 312,000, according to the Labor Department. The report heightens speculation that the government's monthly jobs report, due out Friday, could reveal a modest slowdown in hiring in May. Also underscoring that concern was a report from payroll processer ADP on Wednesday that showed private employers pulling back on hiring last month.
Economists estimate that employers added 220,000 jobs in May and that the unemployment rate inched up to 6.4 percent from 6.3 percent as more people hunt for work.
BONDS AND COMMODS: In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury edged down to 2.58 percent from 2.60 percent late Wednesday. The price of oil slipped 10 cents to $102.54 a barrel.