North American equity markets shook off their early-day cobwebs and are tracking solidly higher in midday trading, building on Tuesday's gains despite a thin flow of fresh news.
Optimism in the financial sector has led the way for the U.S. market, while higher oil prices have lit a fire under Canadian stocks
Shortly after noon (Eastern), the S&P/TSX composite index was up 83 points at 11,283. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 123 points at 9,867, the S&P 500 had gained 13 points to 1,041 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 24 points at 2,118.
Early in the day, it looked as if investors were ready to slide into a wait-and-see mode after U.S. stocks snapped a seven-day losing streak Tuesday, happy to hold their ground while waiting for fresh economic releases toward the end of the week and next week's start of the second-quarter earnings-reporting season.
But rising financial stocks gave the U.S. market solid mid-morning momentum, after investment firm State Street Corp. issued stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings guidance.
Meanwhile, the energy-heavy Canadian market is getting a boost from rising oil prices ahead of Thursday's weekly petroleum inventory report from the U.S. government, as the high-demand summer driving season takes hold. Crude oil is up $1.44 (U.S.) at $73.42 a barrel in New York.
The TSX energy sub-index is up 1.5 per cent, leading the way among sectors in the Canadian market. Technology stocks are up 1.4 per cent. But the day's gains are fairly broad-based, with all 10 industry sub-indexes trading higher.
Overseas, European bourses also turned smartly higher, also boosted by optimism that the financial sector might be in better shape than previously feared. London's FTSE 100 index closed up 1 per cent.
Gold is up 50 cents at $1,195.60 an ounce.
The Canadian dollar is up a quarter of a cent at 95.08 cents.