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At the open: No fear of heights Add to ...

North American stocks jumped higher at the start of trading on Thursday, with investors concentrating on the steady stream of better-than-expected economic news rather than the near-40-per-cent gains that major indexes have already made since early March.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 50 points or 0.6 per cent, to 8562. The broader S&P 500 rose 10 points or 1.1 per cent, to 930. The latest good news driving investor sentiment: Initial jobless claims for last week were lower than expected.

Financials were particularly strong, as investors await the official release of government stress tests later in the day. Bank of America Corp. rose 17.4 per cent and Citigroup Inc. rose 11.9 per cent, suggesting that investors have little concern about those test results.

Alcoa Inc. rose 3.8 per cent and General Electric Co. rose 3.6 per cent.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index continued to roar ahead - driven not only by improving financials, but commodity producers as well: Crude oil shot up to $58.36 (U.S.) a barrel, up more than $2. Gold hit $918.50 an ounce, up $7.50.

Among gold producers, Goldcorp Inc. rose 5.9 per cent. Among energy producers, Suncor Energy Inc. rose 5.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, Manulife Financial Corp. rose 1.7 per cent and Bank of Montreal rose 2.1 per cent. The bank's dividend yield - recently at double digits due to wide concerns about whether the bank would be able to maintain the dividend - has now fallen to 6.3 per cent.

In other moves, Magna International Inc. surged 8.4 per cent, a day after the auto parts manufacturer reported a $200-million loss in the first quarter. Teck Resources rose 4 per cent.

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