Stocks rose on Thursday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to its seventh consecutive gain and lifting the broader S&P 500 above the 1,400-point threshold for the first time since mid-2008.
The Dow closed at 13,252.76, up 58.66 points, or 0.4 per cent. The S&P 500 closed at 1,402.60, up 8.32 points, or 0.6 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,455.82, up 77.92 points, or 0.6 per cent.
Once again, the gains follow a round of upbeat U.S. economic news – this time highlighted by a drop in weekly initial jobless claims. Claims for the period ended last week feel to 351,000 from an upwardly revised 365,000, suggesting more improvements in the U.S. labour market.
Financials and industrials showed some the biggest gains. Bank of America Corp. rose 4.5 per cent and JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 2.6 per cent. Citigroup Inc., which failed the Federal Reserve’s recent stress tests, also shook off recent declines, rising 3 per cent.
In Canada, financial gains were dominated by insurance companies as investors bet that rising bond yields will translate into bigger earnings. Manulife Financial Corp. rose 1.7 per cent and Sun Life Financial Inc. rose 2 per cent. Both stocks surged on Wednesday when the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond rose to its highest level since late October; on Thursday, the yield rose only slightly, to 2.28 per cent.
Curiously, Apple Inc. didn’t participate in Thursday’s stock market rally. The shares rose to an intraday high of $600.01, a milestone celebrated by a number of media outlets, before turning south. The shares closed at $585.56, down 0.7 per cent for the day and down 2.4 per cent from their high.
Viterra Inc. surged 9.8 per cent to a new record high as investors grew more confident about a takeover. Reports said that Glencore International PLC had teamed up with Agrium Inc. and Winnipeg’s Richardson family to make a bid, though no numbers have been disclosed. Viterra shares had been halted when markets opened, before the grain handler released a statement saying that a “process has been established” in response to acquisition efforts.