The Toronto stock market headed for a higher open Thursday as buyers were encouraged by moves by central banks to give the global economic recovery some much needed assistance.
The European Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China both cut interest rates while the Bank of England embarked on another round of quantitative easing, which involves pumping money into the economy which, hopefully, will be lent to businesses and consumers.
The Canadian dollar was up 0.13 of a cent to 98.83 cents US.
U.S. futures lost early momentum as markets had already largely priced in the European moves, helping to spark a sharp run-up in equities over the past few sessions. The TSX, meanwhile, has gained more than five per cent in the last six trading days.
The Dow Jones industrial futures were five points higher to 12,872, the Nasdaq futures slipped 0.8 of a point to 2,640.8 while the S&P 500 futures rose 1.7 points to 1,369.7.
Futures fell despite data showing planned layoffs in the U.S. fell 39 per cent to a 13-month low in June. Outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas said the June total is 9.4 per cent lower than the number of cuts a year ago and is the lowest monthly total since May 2011.
The news was particularly welcome, coming a day before the release of the U.S. non-farm payrolls report. Expectations are modest with economists forecasting the American economy only cranked out about 90,000 jobs in June.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week fell by the most in two months, government data showed on Thursday, a hopeful sign for the struggling labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 374,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 388,000 from the previously reported 386,000.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 385,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 1,500 to 385,750.
The Chinese bank was first off the mark Thursday, cutting its benchmark lending rate by 0.31 of a point to six per cent. It is the second time within a month the bank has cut interest rates in an attempt to stimulate China’s rapidly slowing economy.
The Bank of England later announced it was injecting another 50 billion pounds into the ailing British economy, which has been officially in recession. The move by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee involves the bank purchasing government bonds from banks. It was widely-anticipated and raises the amount it is pumping into the British economy since March 2009 to 375 billion pounds. It is the first stimulus since February.
The European Central Bank weighed in with a quarter point cut in its key rate to an all time low of 0.75 per cent.
The ECB also cut its overnight deposit rate — what it charges banks for depositing their money with the ECB overnight — to zero. That is meant to encourage banks to invest their money in the economy rather than stash it with the ECB.
Oil prices advanced following the announcement of the rate cuts with the August crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange ahead 73 cents to US$88.39 a barrel. Oil is up about US$10 from last Thursday, partly over increased tensions with Iran. But traders have also been hopeful that central bank action to boost economic growth, along with signs late last week that eurozone leaders are making progress in dealing with the region’s debt crisis, will boost demand.
Leaders of the 17 euro countries agreed to allow Europe’s bailout fund to capitalize banks directly and to buy the bonds of imperilled countries.
September copper eased a penny to $3.53 (U.S.) a pound, but prices are still up about six per cent from last Thursday.
Gold bullion prices relaxed $8.10 to US$1,613.70 an ounce.
European bourses were mixed with London’s FTSE 100 index ahead 0.53 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX rose 0.87 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 declined 0.18 per cent.
Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.4 per cent, South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 per cent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.1 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite tumbled 1.2 per cent.