Wall Street picked up where it left off on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average rising enough at the open to mark its highest intraday level to date.
But it's costing more for Canadians to load up on U.S. stocks. The loonie dove about half a cent this morning, after the Bank of Canada suggested aggressive monetary stimulus measures will stay in place for some time.
Just past 10 a.m. (ET), the Dow was up 48 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 14,303, which surpasses Tuesday's intraday record high of 14,286. The broader S&P 500 index was up 3 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 1,543 - still more than 1 percentage point away from its own all-time high. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 64 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 12,800.
The Canadian dollar was down about half a percentage point against the greenback after starting today with mild gains, last quoted at 96.80 (U.S.), a fresh six-month low.
With the Dow's milestone on Tuesday capturing so much attention, more investors who had been on the sidelines may be easing back into the market, worried about being left behind.
There was also a private-sector employment report this morning that showed better job gains than expected, leading some to suspect this Friday's key U.S. non-farm payrolls report for February will show the labour market making more progress to a recovery. The U.S. ADP private payroll survey suggested 198,000 job gains in February, versus the 170,000 that was forecast.
In other U.S. data, factory orders dropped 2 per cent in February, which was a little better than the 2.2-per-cent decline economists had predicted.
European stocks were on the rise today, led by a 1.1-per-cent rise in Germany's DAX index. The FTSE 100 was up 0.3 per cent and Italy's FTSE MIB was up 0.5 per cent. The euro zone released figures today showing that gross domestic product fell 0.6 per cent in the fourth quarter, which confirmed an initial Feb. 14 estimate.
The increased optimism over global stock markets is helping to tame bond yields in Europe, with Spain's 10-year borrowing costs falling by 7 basis points to 4.97. Just a week ago, the yield was sitting near 5.20 per cent. Italy's 10-year bond yield this morning is down 12 basis points to 4.565 per cent.
Asian markets rose overnight in the footsteps of Tuesday's strong performance in U.S. equity markets, with Japan rallying 2.1 per cent and the Shanghai index up 0.8 per cent.
Among stocks moving on news today was Torstar Corp., which reported adjusted earnings of 49 cents per share in its fourth quarter, down from 70 cents a year earlier, as revenue fell 5 per cent. Analysts expected earnings of 53 cents and shares plunged nearly 10 per cent at the open.
Laurentian Bank of Canada shares were up 0.1 per cent after announcing it earned $34.1-million in its latest quarter, as acquisitions helped boost revenue from a year ago.
Staples Inc.'s adjusted earnings topped Wall Street’s view, but its forecast for this year was below analysts’ estimates. Shares opened down 3 per cent.