US stocks Thursday snapped a two-day losing streak, finishing higher on news of European monetary stimulus and a $21 billion pharmaceutical merger.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 38.82 points (0.21 percent) to 18,135.72.
The broad-based S&P 500 rose 2.51 (0.12 percent) to 2,101.04, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 15.67 (0.32 percent) at 4,982.81.
The European Central Bank announced it would launch Monday a 1.1-trillion-euro ($1.2 trillion) bond-buying program. The ECB also raised its growth forecasts for the 19-nation eurozone.
Shares of pharma company AbbVie fell 5.7 percent after it announced it would buy leukemia drug maker Pharmacyclics in the latest big pharma deal. Pharmacyclics jumped 10.3 percent.
Several other pharmaceutical stocks rose, including Biogen (+2.8 percent), Celgene (+1.0 percent) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (+3.9 percent).
The US Department of Labor is scheduled to release the February jobs report Friday morning. Analysts expect the US added 240,000 jobs during the month and that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent.
Big box retailer Costco Wholesale rose 2.7 percent after reporting a 29 percent rise in profits on a four percent gain in sales in the quarter through February 15.
Grocery chain Kroger advanced 6.7 percent on a 23 percent rise in profit in the fourth quarter through January 31. The company predicted 3-4 percent sales growth for this year.
Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.11 percent from 2.12 percent, while the 30-year rose to 2.72 percent from 2.71 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.