Dow industrials edge up ahead of ECB
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- The Dow industrials finished slightly higher Wednesday, with Wall Street unwilling to make major moves ahead of a European Central Bank meeting the next day.
"The pattern has been, especially in Europe, that doing something is a heck of a lot better than doing nothing. They've stated their intentions clearly and now it's time to act," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management in Des Peres, Mo.
The ECB "almost has to act tomorrow," John Canally, investment strategist at LPL Financial in Boston, said of the market's raised expectations.
Trading in a narrow range, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose 11.54 points, or 0.1%, to close at 13,047.48.
The S&P 500 index (SPX) declined by 1.5 points, or 0.1%, to 1,403.44, with utilities hardest hit and materials the best performer among its 10 industry groups.
The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) retreated 5.79 points, or 0.2%, to finish at 3,069.27.
Decliners edged ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 676 million shares traded and composite volume reached almost 3.4 billion.
ECB: no comment
Ahead of the open, stock index futures had cut their losses after Bloomberg News reported that ECB President Mario Draghi's bond-buying program would involve unlimited purchases of government debt that would be sterilized to appease worries about inflation. Sterilization refers to the process of draining liquidity from a financial system to offset additions to the money supply from measures such as purchasing bonds.
The ECB "is going to buy bonds in a big way; they are going to try to contain the crisis in Spain and Italy by buying their bonds," said Skrainka at Cornerstone Wealth Management.
A spokesman said the central bank had no comment on the Bloomberg report, and pointed to an Aug. 20 statement after a report in a German news magazine that the ECB was considering setting a cap on bond yields. It called a story reporting on decisions that had yet to be made"absolutely misleading."
Investors offered limited reaction to a morning report on U.S. productivity, which rose more than first estimated for the second quarter. Read story U.S. productivity.
"Today is more about Europe than the data," LPL Financial's Canally said.