US stocks dip as ECB stops short on stimulus

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks followed European equity markets lower on Thursday, falling slightly after the European Central Bank (ECB) enacted no new stimulus measures.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 12.52 points (0.07 per cent) to 17,900.10.

The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 2.41 (0.12 per cent) to 2,071.92, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 5.04 (0.11 per cent) to 4,769.44.

Markets in Britain, France and Germany all fell sharply after the ECB held its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.05 per cent.

ECB chief Mario Draghi said the bank has stepped up preparations for more anti-deflation measures, but that they will be reassessed only in January.

"Obviously, the market needs continued support," said Steven Rosen, a managing director at Societe Generale.

"Investors were looking for Europe to come with a grand plan. Every time they push it off."

Investors are gearing up for Friday's release of the November US jobs report.

Petroleum-related stocks had another bad day as oil prices retreated again. Dow component Chevron fell 1.3 per cent, Marathon Oil lost 2.3 per cent and rig company Transocean tumbled 4.6 per cent.

Airlines rallied on expectations for higher profits due to lower fuel costs. Delta Air Lines gained 3.7 per cent, while United Continental advanced 4.2 per cent.

Pipeline operator Enbridge jumped 10.3 per cent after announcing a 33 per cent increase in its quarterly dividend.

Barnes & Noble fell 5.4 per cent after announcing that it ended a partnership with Microsoft for its Nook tablet.

B&N will buy back Microsoft's stake in the partnership for US$300 million (S$394 million). Dow member Microsoft rose 1.6 per cent.

Starbucks gained 1 per cent as it unveiled a five-year plan to increase revenues to near US$30 billion in 2019 from US$16 billion in 2014.

The company's plans include doubling its store count in China and boosting its food menu in the US.

Grocery chain Kroger added 3.6 per cent as third-quarter net income jumped 21 per cent to US$362 million behind higher revenues.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.26 per cent from 2.29 per cent Wednesday, while the 30-year dropped to 2.96 per cent from 2.99 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.