US STOCKS-ECB stimulus, firmer oil push S&P 500 to 2016 high
(Updates to close)
* U.S. crude prices up nearly 2 pct, Brent above $40
* Indexes up: Dow 1.3 pct, S&P 1.6 pct, Nasdaq 1.9 pct
By Laila Kearney
March 11 (Reuters) - The Dow and S&P 500 rallied on Friday to their best close of 2016 as investors embraced the European Central Bank's stimulus measures and steadying oil prices drove up energy shares.
Investors shook off skepticism over the ECB's stimulus package disclosed on Thursday, which was overshadowed by signals of an end to rate cuts, said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management Corp in Chicago.
"It seemed to me this is yesterday's rally delayed until today," said Kuby. Investors "reassessed and realized it was good news."
Friday's bullish session was also strengthened by steadying oil prices, which have remained closely correlated with equities throughout the year.
U.S. crude was up almost 2 percent and Brent was above $40 per barrel after the International Energy Agency said oil prices may have bottomed as output in the United States and other non-OPEC countries was beginning to fall quickly. The combined oil and natural gas U.S. rig count fell to its lowest on records going back to 1940, according to data from Baker Hughes. Continuación...