* ECB President Draghi announces bond-buying program
* Verizon, American Express fall after results
* Indexes up: Dow 0.7 pct, S&P 500 0.8 pct, Nasdaq 0.9 pct (Updates to midday trading)
By Lucas Iberico Lozada
NEW YORK, Jan 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Thursday after the European Central Bank announced larger than expected measures to stimulate the region’s sagging economy.
The ECB will buy 60 billion euros worth of assets per month, more than markets had been hoping for, in a program that will last through September 2016.
Shares in Europe jumped 1.6 percent to close at a seven-year high.
Analysts said that the ECB’s decision had for the most part been priced into market activity in previous days’ trading, and that many questions still remain about the strength of Eurozone activity.
“Many have said this program is not going to suddenly flip a switch,” said John Canally investment strategist at LPL Financial in New York. “It’s a long slog and this is the first step.”
At 1:46 p.m. EST (1846 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average rose 127.83 points, or 0.73 percent, to 17,682.11, the S&P 500 gained 16 points, or 0.79 percent, to 2,048.12 and the Nasdaq Composite added 42.51 points, or 0.91 percent, to 4,709.93.
The energy sector weighed on gains, as the U.S. energy statistics agency said weekly oil stockpiles were four times higher than analysts polled by Reuters had expected. The S&P 500 energy sector fell 0.7 percent.
Financial firms led gains on Thursday boosted by the ECB move, as the S&P 500 financials ticked up 1.8 percent.
Wells Fargo and Bank of America rose 2 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.
Major oil producers like Chevron and Occidental , as well as oilfield service provider Schlumberger were all lower on the day.
Verizon Communications was the largest points weight on the S&P 500, down 2.2 percent to $47.18 after swinging to a net loss in its latest quarter.
The stock weighed on both the Dow and on telecom stocks , which were by far the weakest S&P 500 sector of the day, down 1.6 percent.
American Express Co also weighed on the Dow, falling 3 percent to $85.04, a day after it said it would cut more than 4,000 jobs this year as expenses and provisions for bad loans rose.
F5 Networks Inc slumped 12 percent to $110.87. The network equipment maker’s revenue missed expectations for the first time in eight quarters. It also forecast current-quarter revenue and profit below estimates.
With 11 percent of S&P 500 components having reported, 79 percent have topped earnings expectations while 55.4 percent have beaten on revenue, according to Thomson Reuters data. That compares with the long-term average of 63 percent for earnings and 61 percent for revenue.
“We’re satisfied with the earnings season, not disappointed or impressed,” said Rex Macey, chief allocation officer at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors in Atlanta.
“However, we’re not seeing anything that looks like a screaming buy.”
Avon Products shares jumped as much as 18.8 percent after DealReporter said the company was in talks with private equity firm TPG Capital about a potential transaction, citing three industry sources. Avon shares were recently up 13.4 percent at $8.57.
U.S. jobless claims fell from a seven-month high in the latest week, though the decline was less than expected.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,200 to 813, for a 2.71-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,698 issues rose and 992 fell, for a 1.71-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 was posting 62 new 52-week highs and 5 lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 38 new highs and 63 new lows. (Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Nick Zieminski)