* ECB hints at prolonging bond-buying program
* Intel boosts S&P, Apple holds weighs
* Joy Global falls after slashing full-year forecast
* Indexes up: Dow 0.37 pct, S&P 0.41 pct, Nasdaq 0.09 pct (Updates to afternoon, adds comment)
By Noel Randewich
Sept 3 (Reuters) - Wall Street rose on Thursday after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted at additional stimulus measures and ahead of a key U.S. jobs report that could figure in the Federal Reserve’s decision about when to lift interest rates.
Major U.S. indices relinquished stronger gains of over 1 percent but stayed in positive territory, with ongoing worries about China’s economy on the minds of investors.
“Whether it’s in the U.S., Japan or Europe, the market likes quantitative easing,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey. “But China concerns have not gone away.”
“I‘m expecting choppiness for a while longer.”
Draghi’s remarks came a day ahead of the monthly U.S. nonfarm payrolls data, which is expected to show that the economy added 220,000 nonfarm jobs in August, up from 215,000 in July.
The combination of a healing U.S. labor market and worries about a stumbling Chinese economy are challenging the Fed as it heads into a meeting on Sept 16-17 where it may raise interest rates for the first time since 2006.
Near-zero rates have allowed the U.S. stock market to stage a spectacular bull-run since the financial crisis. But the market was rocked by volatility in the past two weeks, triggered by fears of slowing growth in China.
Some investors believe the market turmoil, which left the S&P 500 with its biggest monthly drop in three years in August, may lead the Fed to delay a rate hike until the end of the year.
The CBOE Volatility index, known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge”, fell 1.65 percent to 25.64 on Thursday, slightly above the long-term average of 20. The index had spiked as much as 53.29 early last week.
At 2:53 pm, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.37 percent to 16,412.58 and the S&P 500 gained 0.41 percent to 1,956.93. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.09 percent to 4,754.28.
Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the telecommunications index’s 1.0 percent rise leading the advancers.
Apple was the biggest drag on S&P 500 with a 1.36 percent drop while Intel’s 2.15 percent gain helped push the index higher.
Joy Global’s shares were down 16 percent after the mining equipment maker reported a fall in quarterly profit and cut its full-year forecast.
Caterpillar also fell 2.6 percent and was the biggest drag on the Dow.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,961 to 1,012. On the Nasdaq, 1,530 issues rose and 1,236 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed no new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 28 new highs and 32 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Chizu Nomiyama)