Stocks on Thursday shook off a dramatic three-day losing streak, posting strong gains as investors pondered upbeat developments in Japan's nuclear crisis and began to focus on upcoming reconstruction efforts.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 11,774.59, up 161.29 points or 1.4 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1273.72, up 16.84 points or 1.3 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 13,746.15, up 221.33 points or 1.6 per cent.
Commodity producers showed the biggest gains, after commodity prices jumped. The ThomReuters/Jefferies CRB index rose 3.1 per cent, marking its biggest one-day move since August, 2009, as cotton, natural gas, wheat, oil and copper all moved higher. Crude oil, in particular, rose to $101.42 (U.S.) a barrel, up $3.44.
Among key stocks, Suncor Energy Inc. rose 4.5 per cent, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. rose 5 per cent, Chevron Corp. rose 2.7 per cent, Alcoa Inc. rose 2.3 per cent and Teck Resources Ltd. rose 5.1 per cent.
However, the gains were quite broad, reflecting renewed confidence in the global economic recovery. Among Dow components, Hewlett-Packard Co. rose 3.2 per cent, Bank of America Corp. rose 2.1 per cent and General Electric Co. rose 1.4 per cent.
The rebound follows three days of anxiety-inducing losses for major indexes. While Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami were to blame for the most recent slide, markets have been declining since mid-February over concerns about rising oil prices. Before Thursday's gains, the S&P 500 had fallen 6.4 per cent from its recent high, wiping out all of the gains for 2011. Now, the index is up 1.3 per cent for the year, while the S&P/TSX composite index is up 2.3 per cent.