Stocks Opened Slightly Higher, ECB Policy in Focus

U.S. stocks opened slightly higher on Thursday, as the European Central Bank said it would leave interest rates in negative territory for at least another six months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 14.43 points, or 0.06%, to 25,554.00. The S&P 500 gained 0.66 point, or 0.02%, to 2,826.81. The Nasdaq Composite was down 16.62 points, or 0.22%, to 7,558.85.

Oil futures rose slightly on Thursday, a day after the U.S. benchmark contract entered a bear market following a report showing domestic supplies hit a nearly two-year high. West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery picked up 13 cents, or 0.3%, to trade at $51.82 a barrel. August Brent rose 50 cents, or 0.8%, at $61.14 a barrel.

The European Central Bank on Thursday left its key refinancing and deposit rates at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively, and the marginal lending facility rate was also left unchanged at 0.25%, as had all been expected.

The nation’s trade deficit fell 2.1% in April, but in a sign of weakness, both exports and imports declined and the gap with China grew. The U.S. trade deficit slipped to $50.8 billion from a revised $51.9 billion in March, the government said Thursday.

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