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S&P 500 stock index hits 2,000 level for the first time

The S&P 500 has hit a new milestone by breaking through the 2,000 mark. Financials were among the winners following encouraging comments from the European Central Bank and it US counterpart, the Federal Reserve.

The benchmark S&P index - the broadest measure of US stocks - rose Monday to an intraday record in early US trading, topping 2,000 for the first time.

Financial stocks were among the big winners, after the European Central Bank's Mario Draghi (ECB) said he was prepared to counter the risk of deflation - a dangerous cycle of falling prices that can stymie growth and could trigger another global crisis.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, hinted that rates may rise sooner than many had been expecting if the

US employment market continued to strengthen

at the current rate.

But Monday's gains suggest that investors also shrugged off weak data on the US services sector and the housing market, which came in below forecasts.

Biotechs were the other big gainers on the S&P 500, after Roche Holding agreed to buy InterMune for $8.3 billion in cash, in the latest vote of confidence for the sector.

The bluechip S&P 500 index has risen by more than eight percent so far this year.

In Europe, major indices like Germany's Dax 30 and France's Cac 40 as well as the pan-European EuroStoxx 50 also advanced on the latest comments by ECB chief Draghi.

ng/ (Reuters, AFP)

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