US stocks edge down as ECB dampens hopes of QE

<p>US stock futures slip as ECB dampens hopes of an immediate Quantitative Easing program.</p>

US stock futures edged lower this morning (December 4th) after a European Central Bank (ECB) news conference dampened speculation that a program of sovereign-debt purchases was to start. The institution will assess if further stimulus is needed early next year, ECB president Mario Draghi said today.

"Markets had expected more than the ECB could deliver," Henrik Drusebjerg, chief strategist at Carnegie Investment Bank told Bloomberg. "The ECB needs to see the effects of the current measures implemented and also assess the effect of the significantly lower oil price on the European economy."

The ECB's goal is to raise the inflation rate, which at 0.3 per cent annually stands below the official objective of just under two per cent and is a sign of economic weakness.

According to an analyst quoted by the Independent, one reason the central bank has held off on mass bond purchases is scepticism from German officials, who worry such purchases would bail out governments that haven't reformed their economies by driving down their borrowing costs.

Futures for the S&P 500 index edged down 0.2 per cent, to 2,068.60, while the Dow industrials lost 0.2 per cent to 17,864. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index slipped 0.1 per cent to 4,306.50.

The news comes after a record session on Wall Street yesterday, when a private report revealed hiring in the US reached 200,000 workers for the seventh time in eight months. In addition, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book mentioned "widespread hiring".

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits also fell last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 297,000 for the week ended November 29th, the Labor Department said today.

A Labor Department report tomorrow is projected to show payrolls climbed in November by more than 200,000 workers for a 10th consecutive month and the unemployment rate held at a six-year low of 5.8 per cent.

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