The Toronto Stock Exchange moved higher on Tuesday as mining and gold stocks gained traction.
The S&P/TSX composite index lifted 40.62 points to 14,310.95 in the morning, while the Canadian dollar moved 0.32 of a cent higher to 91.49 cents (U.S.).
The TSX mining sector was the leader, up 2.7 per cent, backed by stronger commodity prices.
Gold stocks were stronger as the price of bullion climbed to levels it hasn’t reached for two weeks, pushed higher by further unrest in the Ukraine. June gold contracts rose $10.60 to $1,308.90 (U.S.) an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. rose 19 cents to $20.33 (Canadian) while Goldcorp Inc. lifted 28 cents to $27.44.
May crude gained 70 cents to $101.14 (U.S.) a barrel, while May copper moved ahead 0.9 of a cent to $3.05 a pound.
On Monday, pro-Russian separatists seized a provincial administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk and proclaimed the region independent – an echo of events prior to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Though Ukrainian authorities say they are driving them out, tensions remain.
North American markets have been lower for the past three sessions as heavyweight stocks began to pull back on uncertainty over economic growth.
The International Monetary Fund said shortly before the open that threats from super-low inflation and outflows of capital from emerging economies threaten worldwide growth.
The 188-country organization says it expects the global economy to grow 3.6 per cent this year and 3.9 per cent in 2015, up from three per cent last year. Those figures are one-tenth of a percentage point below the IMF’s previous forecasts in January. However, the fund nudged its 2014 forecast for Canada upward one-tenth of a point to 2.3 per cent this year, while leaving its 2015 estimate for Canada at 2.4 per cent growth.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials increased 39.81 points to 16,285.68, while the Nasdaq was ahead 35.99 points to 4,115.74. The S&P 500 index lifted 6.95 points to 1,851.99.
U.S. technology stocks had suffered a steep decline in the past two sessions on concerns they could be overvalued, sentiment that spread to international markets on Monday but appeared to have subsided on Tuesday with Facebook, Netflix and Yahoo all higher.
Investors are eagerly anticipating the latest financial reports from big U.S. companies, said Jennifer Dowty, associate portfolio manaager at CIBC Global Asset Management. But she said it’ll be about more than just the headline numbers.
Earnings season gets underway in earnest after stock markets close with U.S.-based aluminum maker Alcoa, and will be followed by Canadian companies like Dollarama Inc. and Cogeco Inc. on Wednesday.
“It’s not so much the reported earnings, but more so the outlook that is the focus,” said Dowty of the upcoming financial reports.
“If we see some disappointments, it’s not going to be a large surprise. I think a lot of management teams are going to be blaming the weather.”
Intense winter storms pounded many key cities in North America in the fourth quarter, and continued into the new year, and were blamed for everything from lacklustre retail sales to slower construction.
Two reports on Canadian construction activity put a damper on hopes that activity may have picked up last month. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported that March housing starts dropped to a seasonally adjusted rate of 156,823 units, down from 190,639 a year earlier. Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said the value of building permits – which are required before construction begins – dropped 11.6 per cent to $6.1-billion in February.
European bourses were down with London’s FTSE 100 index off 0.8 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX fell 0.6 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 slipped 0.5 per cent.
Asian markets were mixed. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 slipped 1.36 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.96 per cent while China’s Shanghai Composite Index was up 1.92 per cent.