North American stocks were close to recovering fully from Tuesday's selloff, posting impressive gains after two reports suggested that the steep level of deterioration in the U.S. economy may be showing early signs of bottoming out.
On Wednesday at midday, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 155 points, or 2 per cent, to 7815. The broader S&P 500 was up 15 points, or 1.9 per cent, to 821 - within 2 points of returning to its close on Monday, after dipping nearly 17 points on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that durable goods orders rose in February, a surprise given that most economists had estimated that orders for big-ticket items would fall. As well, new home sales in the United States rose 4.7 per cent in February, reducing unsold inventory slightly.
All 10 subindexes in the S&P 500 were higher, but financials led the way with a 4.7 per cent gain. Industrials rose 2.7 per cent, consumer discretionary stocks rose 2.6 per cent and consumer staples rose 1.7 per cent.
In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 68 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 8917. There, the action was more mixed. Materials led, with a 1.8 per cent gain due to a rise by gold producers and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. Gold rose about $7 (U.S.) an ounce, to $930.50.
Financials rose 1.3 per cent and energy stocks rose 0.1 per cent. Among the laggards, information technology stocks fell 2.4 per cent and utilities fell 1 per cent.