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The close: Dow, TSX gain Add to ...

After a cautious start to the day, investors drove North American stocks to new post-recovery highs on Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 12,318.14, up 29.97 points, or 0.2 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1,340.43, up 4.11 points, or 0.3 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 14,136.15, up 76.97 points, or 0.6 per cent.

The day began on a mixed note, with a bigger-than-expected rise in U.S. weekly jobless claims and higher-than-expected reading on U.S. inflation. However, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's index of business activity rose above expectations, touching a seven-year high.

Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association quarterly survey found that the number of households behind on their loan payments fell to 12.9 per cent from 14 per cent a year ago.

However, banks weren't the big winners during the day. Instead, commodity producers showed some of the biggest gains, with energy stocks and materials stocks leading the 10 subindexes within the S&P 500. Among some of the bigger names, DuPont rose 1.7 per cent, Chevron Corp. rose 0.5 per cent and Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. rose 7.2 per cent after reporting strong quarterly results.

In other moves, Coca-Cola Co. rose 1.8 per cent, Intel Corp. rose 1 per cent and Home Depot Inc. rose 0.9 per cent.

Among Canadian stocks, Sun Life Financial Inc. skidded 2.6 per cent after releasing its quarterly results. Suncor Energy Inc. rose 2.4 per cent after the price of crude oil rose to $86.36 (U.S.) a barrel, up $1.37. And Barrick Gold Corp. rose 1.9 per cent after gold rose to $1,385.10 an ounce, up $10.

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