The Toronto stock market was emphatically positive Thursday as commodities gained ground in the wake of positive U.S. housing data and continued hopes that central bankers can keep a fragile recovery on the rails.
The S&P/TSX Composite index vaulted 127.14 points, or 1.1%, to close the day at 12,032.58
The Canadian dollar regained 0.28 cents to 101.36 cents U.S.
The energy sector rose while Canadian Natural Resources was ahead 69 cents to $31.50
The gold sector rose as Goldcorp Inc. climbed $1.73, or 4.8%, to $37.97.
Barrick Gold Inc. was in focus as the world's biggest gold miner said it was in talks that could result in the sale of its majority stake in African Barrick Gold to China's largest gold producer.
ABG is Tanzania's largest gold producer and one of the five largest gold producers in Africa, but production costs have been higher than anticipated, Barrick Gold said in its recent second-quarter financial report. Barrick shares ran up $1.36, or 4% to $35.62.
The base metals sector was up while copper prices rose a cent to $3.36 U.S. a pound. First Quantum Minerals rose 58 cents, or more than 3%, to $19.69.
The telecom sector was the weakest component with Telus Corp. $1.40 lower at $63.48.
In Canada, shares of Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. fell after it said problems with a new warehouse management system at its distribution centre hurt sales and margins for the third quarter. Its shares forged ahead 10 cents to $12.60.
On the economic slate, figures released this morning by Statistics Canada indicated that manufacturing sales were weaker-than-expected in June, slipping 0.4%. Market expectations were for a modest 0.3% increase in June.
Elsewhere, folks beyond our borders reduced their holdings of Canadian securities by $7.9 billion in June, after two straight months of acquisitions totaling $36.3 billion. Canadians, on the other hand, added $3.9 billion of foreign securities to their portfolios, most of it in U.S. government bonds.
The TSX Venture Exchange gained 14.63 points to 1,217.05. The Nasdaq Canada advanced 3.52 points to 350.14.
All but two of the 14 Toronto subgroups stayed positive on the day. Gold and materials were up 2.9% each, and the metals and mining group advanced 2.8%.
The two laggards were telecoms, off 0.9%, and health-care, down 0.4%.
U.S. stocks moved solidly higher by Thursday afternoon, as investors parsed through a mixed bag of economic data.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 85.33 points to end Thursday at 13,250.10
The S&P 500 gained 9.98 points to 1,415.51. The Nasdaq took on 31.46 points to 3,055.38.
Cisco Systems helped fuel the rally after reporting a quarterly profit and sales Wednesday that rose from year-ago results and beat Wall Street's forecasts. It also boosted its dividend by 75%. Shares of Cisco, a Dow component, rose more than 9%
There is some more optimism overall on the housing market. Home prices and new construction have started to pick up in recent months as foreclosures have slowed.
Investors are waiting to hear if the U.S. Federal Reserve will commence another round of bond buying to stimulate the economy, said one expert. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke could address so-called QE2 in his Jackson Hole, Wyoming speech at the end of the month.
Investors are largely in a wait-and-see-mode ahead of a potential announcement.
One exception to the slow volume: Facebook. More than 111 million shares have changed hands, pushing the stock down as much as 7% to an all-time low, as the social media company's "lock-up period" expired. Facebook's insiders became eligible to sell off about 271 million shares Thursday, the first of a series of lock-up expirations for the company.
Second quarter results from Wal-Mart Stores showed that the retailer is still doing well in a sluggish economy.. The company upped its forecast for the year's profits. However, both Wal-Mart and Sears Holdings, which also reported results, missed on revenue expectations. Wal-Mart's stock slid but Sears shares were higher.
Shares in two companies, Electronic Arts and Redbox parent company Coinstar, soared on takeover speculation. The New York Post reported that both companies are targets for private equity firms.
On the economic slate, the number of people filing for first-time jobless claims for the week ended August 11 rose by 2,000 to 366,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The weekly figure came in lower than analysts' estimate of 368,000.
Housing market data also came in better than expected with housing starts up almost 22% from a year earlier, while building permits rose nearly 30% from July 2011.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve indicated that manufacturing contracted faster than expected in August. The index came in at minus 7.1, below the forecast of minus 5.0. It's still up from minus 12.9 in July.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury slid, pushing the yield up to 1.84% from Wednesday's 1.81%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for September delivery grew 85 cents to $95.18 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for December delivery rose $12.60 to $1,619.20 U.S. an ounce.