Shares in Toronto powered ahead Wednesday, posting a triple digit gain on the back of stronger prices for gold and oil, while stocks in the U.S. closed mixed.
The TSX/S&P composite index rallied 179 points or 1.5 per cent to 12,270, its best single session advance in point terms since last August.
A standout sector was materials, a group that primarily includes gold miners, which soared 4.8 per cent as the price for bullion advanced $17 (U.S.) to $1,431 an ounce. Oil futures jumped $2.44 to $91.62 a barrel in New York trading, propelled higher by a U.S. government report showing higher gasoline demand and a smaller than expected increase in oil stockpiles.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 43 points or 0.29 per cent to 14,676, while both the tech heavy Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closed near the flat line, trimming modest advances from earlier in the session during lacklustre late day trading.
Stocks in the U.S. were unable to get traction following renewed signs that the economy south of the border continues to be stuck in a rut of slow growth, highlighted by the release of weaker than expected orders for durable goods.
Orders in March declined by 5.7 per cent, although some economists cautioned that a major factor in the drop was a plunge in aircraft orders at plane maker Boeing. Aircraft orders are typically volatile from month to month and sagged 48 per cent, accounting for much of the overall drop.
"The U.S. durable goods orders report wasn't as negative as the headline suggested," commented Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns, in a note to clients.
Nonetheless, signs that the U.S. economy remains moribund suggests that the Federal Reserve Board is unlikely to raise interest rates any time soon and may be forced into a further relaxation of its monetary policy.
Apple shares were unable to shrug off disappointment over the release of uninspiring first quarter results after the close on Tuesday. The electronics company also announced plans to increase its dividend and increase its stock buybacks. The stock closed down 67 cents to $405.46.
In Toronto, gold stocks had a stellar session, recovering from the depressed levels reached after bullion last week sold off to its lowest levels in nearly two years. There were broad gains among major and intermediate producers.
Barrick reported slightly lower first quarter results, but investors snapped up the shares after recent weakness, sending them up 7.6 per cent in active trading. Among other producers, Goldcorp advanced 6.4 per cent, Agnico 3.9 per cent, Eldorado 5.9 per cent, Osisko 7.7 per cent and Detour 6.7 per cent.
The move in crude sent shares of oil producers higher. Suncor advanced 3.5 per cent, Imperial Oil 2.3 per cent and Canadian Natural Resources 2.4 per cent.
Research In Motion also had a good day following the release of a new Blackberry smartphone with a keyboard. The shares rose 3.5 per cent.