Stock market closes higher
The stock market closed slightly higher Thursday as gains for utilities and financial stocks were largely offset by losses in energy and materials companies.
Kroger jumped after reporting better-than-expected earnings that were boosted in part by lower fuel costs. Joy Global, a manufacturer of mining equipment, fell sharply after it said that the worldwide plunge in commodity prices was hurting its business.
Investors got some positive news on the global economy early in the day as the European Central Bank upgraded its growth forecast for the eurozone this year to 1.5 percent from 1 percent. ECB President Mario Draghi also said that the bank’s planned $1.1 trillion stimulus program will start Thursday.
Even though gains for stocks have slowed this week, major indexes remain close to record levels after a strong surge in February.