Stocks rose on Wednesday, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average deeper into record-high territory, a day after the blue-chip index surged above its previous high in 2007.
The Dow closed at 14,295.78, up 42.01 points or 0.3 per cent – a fresh high, but a gain that pales next to Tuesday’s 126-point leap. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1541.46, up 1.67 points or 0.1 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,831.96, up 95.92 points or 0.8 per cent.
The moves followed an upbeat report on private-sector hiring in the United States, which arrives two days before the official payrolls report from the Labor Department. The ADP report showed that employers added 198,000 positions in February – and January’s figures were revised upward to 215,000.
The Labor Department’s report on Friday is expected to show private sector job gains totalling 167,000, according to Bloomberg News.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said factory orders fell 2 per cent in January, slightly better than the 2.2 per cent drop anticipated by economists.
In the afternoon, the Federal Reserve released its Beige Book of economic conditions, revealing an ongoing “modest to moderate” economic recovery overall – with the real estate market looking better but only slight improvements in the labour market and slowing retail sales in some districts.
Among key commodities, crude oil fell to $90.43 (U.S.) a barrel, down 39 cents. Gold rose to $1,542.40 an ounce, up $6.90 – even amid signs that investors are pulling out of gold exchange traded funds
Commodity producers were among the biggest movers in Canada: Suncor Energy Inc. rose 1.4 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. jumped 4.5 per cent.
Research In Motion Ltd. closed up 95 cents, or 7.3 per cent, at $13.85 in Toronto, amid some supportive news. A Pacific Crest analyst said that the new Z10 smartphone is gaining traction in the U.K., and RIM also announced the second major supply contract this week for those devices.
Within the Dow, Bank of America Corp. showed the biggest gain, rising 3.2 per cent. Hewlett-Packard Co. rose 2.8 per cent, Alcoa Inc. rose 2.6 per cent and Cisco Systems Inc. rose 2.3 per cent.
Microsoft Corp. fell 0.9 per cent after the European Union fined the company the equivalent of $732-million for breaking its promise to offer computer users a choice in Web browsers.