U.S. and Canadian stock indexes edged up at the open, with the Dow Jones industrial average rising to another record intraday high, as investors took better-than-expected weekly jobless claims data this morning as a signal to extend this year's relentless rally.
If the Dow closes up today, it would be the 10th consecutive higher session - a rare winning streak that's been inspired by proactive central bank monetary policy, strong corporate profit growth and signs that the U.S. economy is getting back on its feet.
Still, traders are getting increasingly nervous that the laws of gravity will eventually kick in and markets are susceptible to profit-taking at any time.
In early trading, Canada's S&P/TSX composite index was up 1 point at 12,745. Gold prices, which were down about $7 at $1,581, limited gains in the index.
The Dow was up 52 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 14,507, its highest level ever. The S&P 500 was up 6 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 1,560 -- only about 5 points away from its record close from 2007.
In economic data this morning, U.S. initial jobless claims for last week fell unexpectedly by 10,000 to 332,000. Economists were expecting claims to creep up to 350,000, and the fresh data provided further evidence the job market is picking up strength. U.S. current account and producer price index figures largely came in as expected, as did Canadian housing price and capacity utilization data. (For a full rundown of how the data came in, see the premarket post here.)
Research In Motion Ltd. continues to garner considerable attention. While opening higher after Wednesday's 8.1 per cent rally, it soon succumbed to profit-taking and was last quoted near unchanged. Its surge on Wednesday was sparked by the announcement of its largest single smartphone order ever. The new BlackBerry 10 smartphones become widely available in the U.S. later this month; rival Samsung is revealing a new Galaxy smartphone today in New York.
The massive BlackBerry order for 1 million phones prompted RBC this morning to raise the number of BlackBerry 10 smartphones it expects RIM to sell in the fiscal fourth quarter.
European stock markets are higher today, led by a 1.9 per cent rise in Italy's FTSA MIB index. Germany's Dax is up nearly 1 per cent and London's FTSE 100 up 0.3 per cent. A two-day leaders summit starts today in Europe, with finance ministers meeting separately on Friday to talk about a bailout for Cyprus. There's speculation that policy makers could scale back austerity measures given that the recession and a woeful employment picture in southern Europe is appearing to be a more pressing concern than the region's inflated debt levels.
Here's a look at some other stocks moving on news this morning:
Quebecor Inc. and Quebecor Media Inc. CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau is stepping down, but will continue to oversee corporate strategy. Robert Depatie, who had been CEO of the Videotron cable unit, will become new CEO. Quebecor Inc. shares opened down 3 per cent.
Aurizon Mines Ltd., which is attempting to fend off a hostile takeover, said its fourth-quarter profit was less than a cent per share, six cents below the consensus estimate. Aurizon shares opened up 0.4 per cent.
Transat A.T. Inc. said its net loss for the three months ended Jan. 31 was $15.1-million or 39 cents per share on a diluted basis, nearly half the loss of a year earlier. But revenues slid 2.8 per cent. Shares opened down 0.7 per cent.