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Overnight Markets: Wall Street closes flat as ECB disappoints

Shares erased early gains after investors dismissed new easing measures from the European Central Bank and crude futures declined.

Overnight Markets: Wall Street closes flat as ECB disappoints

The S&P 500 and the Dow industrials ended a volatile session little changed on Thursday as investors dismissed new easing measures from the European Central Bank and crude futures declined.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell five points, or 0.03%, to 16,995, the S&P 500 closed flat at 1,990 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 12 points, or 0.26%, to 4,662.

Earlier in the session, stocks had been firmly higher, after the ECB pushed its deposit rate deeper into negative territory and increased its asset-buying program to €80 billion a month from €60 billion in an effort to boost growth in the region.

But the initial impact of the ECB’s QE measure dissipated after ECB President Mario Draghi said during his news conference that he doesn’t anticipate a need to cut rates further. A deepening slide in crude futures added to headwinds.

In the US, jobless claims fell more than expected last week to their lowest levels since October, pointing to sustained strength in the labour market that should further dispel fears of a recession.

A 2% drop in DuPont and a 1.5% decline in shares of Microsoft Corp. weighed on the Dow Jones.

Shares of Dollar General (DG.N) were up 10.7% after it reported better-than-expected same-store sales growth. Rival Dollar Tree (DLTR.O) was up 4%.

Vail Resorts Inc. tumbled 4% despite the fact that the company’s reported profit was better than expected.

Box Inc. shares gained 1.7% after investors cheered its better-than-expected earnings report late Wednesday.

In Asia, shares traded lower on Friday in morning session, following a weaker finish on Wall Street overnight and as traders digest the ECB’s stimulus announcements.

The Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 was lower by 1.15% and the Topix was off 0.94%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was lower by 0.51% and South Korea's Kospi was flat.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was trading o.43% higher, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.60%.

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