Investors may have begun the day wondering whether major North American market indexes would soon fall below their November lows on concerns about, well, just about everything. By the afternoon, though, people were in a buying mood, driving indexes well above their lows for the day.
In particular, Canada's benchmark index rebounded more than 400 points from the day's low. The S&P/TSX composite index closed at 8879.61, up 191.25 points, or 2.2 per cent - or up 4.8 per cent from its intraday low. It had fallen as low as 8471 earlier, when oil prices fell below $34 (U.S.) a barrel and concerns emanating from struggling U.S. financial firms made their way to Canada's Big Banks.
By the end of the day, just about every group of stocks had rebounded into positive territory - including energy, after oil bounced back above $35 a barrel (though still ending down for the day). Suncor Energy Inc. rose 4.2 per cent and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. rose 1.9 per cent.
Research In Motion Ltd. was the biggest winner, rising 10 per cent after Apple Inc.'s chief executive officer said he was taking a six-month leave from the company to deal with health-related issues. What's bad for Apple, it seems, is good for RIM. Apple shares fell 2.3 per cent.
In the United States, the rebounds weren't quite as extreme, but still gave major indexes gains for the day. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 8212.49, up 12.35 points, or 0.2 per cent - ending six consecutive days of losses. The broader S&P 500 closed at 843.74, up 1.12 points, or 0.1 per cent.
The gains came despite a dreary start to the day. The U.S. Labour Department reported that initial jobless claims rose more than expected for the week ended Jan. 10. As well, investors were hit with reports suggesting that Bank of America Corp. was seeking additional financial aid from the U.S. government. Bank of America shares fell 18.4 per cent, to a new multi-year low. Citigroup Inc. shares fell 15.5 per cent.
However, Alcoa Inc. rose 3.8 per cent, Walt Disney Co. rose 2.7 per cent and Exxon Mobil Corp. rose 2.1 per cent.
After markets closed, Intel Corp. reported a 90 per cent drop in its fourth-quarter profit. Despite the sharp drop, to 4 cents a share, the results were in line with analysts' expectations. In after-market activity, the shares rose 36 cents, to $13.65.