Dow drifts more than 100 points higher at the open as Jackson Hole gathering gets under way

U.S. stocks climbed modestly higher on Thursday morning as investors watched an annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where central bank leaders will discuss global monetary policy and economic health. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.54%

rose 110 points, or 0.4%, to 26,314, the S&P 500 index

SPX, +0.33%

climbed 0.3% to 2,934, while the Nasdaq Composite Index

COMP, +0.24%

picked 16 points to reach 8,037, a gain of 0.2%. The Jackson Hole gathering comes after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July 30-31 policy gathering, which suggested that central bank policy makers wanted to be flexible in implementing policy. In other economic policy, the European Central Bank, meanwhile, hinted at a significant new stimulus package after the release of minutes from its July 25 meeting, which suggested that policy makers are contemplating a package that would includes cutting policy rates further into negative territory and new purchases of financial assets. In U.S. economic data, new applications for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 to 209,000 during the week ended Aug 17, a four-week low, suggesting continued strength in the labor market.

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