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Stock Market Today: Futures Rally as ECB Cuts Rates, Launches Stimulus Program

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock index futures were rallying Thursday after the European Central Bank fulfilled the market's hope for further economic stimulus measures.

ECB President Mario Draghi announced on Thursday that the bank would launch an asset-backed securities purchase program to help boost liquidity in the financial markets and stimulate lending. His statement came after the ECB cuts its benchmark interest rate to 0.05% from 0.15% and deposit rate to -0.2% from -0.1%. Draghi had fueled hopes last month of more action to combat deflationary risks in the slowing eurozone economy during a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 36 points, or 41.72 points above fair value, to 17,109. S&P 500 futures were up 6 points, or 5.58 points above fair value, to 2,004.75. Nasdaq futures were up 11 points, or 12.24 points above fair value, to 4,082.8.

The Bank of Japan decided after its two-day meeting to maintain its massive monetary stimulus program. The Bank of England kept its main interest rate at a record low of 0.5% and the size of its stimulus program unchanged at 375 billion pounds ($617 billion).

The ADP private payroll employment report for August said 204,000 jobs were added last month vs. the expectation of 220,000. That's down from July's 212,000 rise, but still suggests strong job growth, according to economists. The Labor Department said U.S. weekly initial jobless claims rose 4,000 to 302,000 last week vs. the average estimate of 300,000. While the four-week moving average increased by 3,000 to 302,750, claim levels stayed low.

The composite index from the ISM non-manufacturing survey for August will be published at 10 a.m. EDT, and the Markit PMI services index for August at 9:45 a.m.

Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President and committee voting member Loretta Mester will speak on economic outlook and monetary policy before the Economic Club of Pittsburgh at 12:30 p.m.

In Thursday's company news, Carl Icahn has sold his entire stake in Family Dollar (FDO) , making a profit of about $200 million on the investment, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Electric carmaker Tesla (TSLA) rose 0.63% to $281.19 in premarket trading as it finalizes terms of a deal to build its first lithium-ion battery plant in Nevada and will make an announcement about the deal on Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Goldman Sachs (GS) landed the role of "stabilization agent" in Alibaba's upcoming initial public offering, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) said Thursday it would speed up the process to create a vaccine regime against Ebola, the virus that has claimed more than 1,900 lives in West Africa. The stock was slightly higher to $103.79.

The Guggenheim CurrencyShares Euro Trust (FXE) was down 1.13% to $128.18 as the euro dropped to a 14-month low against the dollar after the ECB announcements. The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was flat at $122.17. 

--By Andrea Tse in New York Follow @AndreaTTse

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