Stocks rose on Thursday, snapping a six-day losing streak for the Dow Jones industrial average, amid tentative signs that Spain and Greece are dealing with their respective crises.
The Dow closed at 12,855.04, up 19.98 points or 0.2 per cent. Over the previous six days, the blue-chip index had shed a total of 3.4 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1357.99, up 3.41 points or 0.3 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 11,736.17, up 61.16 points or 0.5 per cent.
The gains follow some early signs of progress in Europe, where a flare-up of the sovereign-debt crisis has recently put investors on edge. In Greece, the former finance minister said that his goal was to form a coalition government to keep the country within the euro zone – relieving some anxiety that the country is heading toward the exits as a backlash against recent austerity measures builds.
In Spain, the government took control of Bankia SA to bolster confidence in the country’s wobbling banking sector. The move sent Spanish bank stocks higher, lifting Spain’s benchmark index by 3.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy produced a decent report on weekly initial jobless claims, following a string of recent disappointments. Claims for the period ended last week fell by 1,000 to 367,000, which was in line with expectations.
Within the S&P 500, defensive areas saw the biggest gains, with utilities, telecom services and health-care stocks leading the way. Economically sensitive areas, such as tech stocks, materials and industrials lagged.
Commodities were relatively stable. Crude oil rose 27 cents (U.S.) to $97.08 a barrel, halting a six-day slide. Gold rose $1.30 to $1,595.50 an ounce. Among Canadian commodity producers, Suncor Energy Inc. rose 0.8 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. rose 0.4 per cent.