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Equities

Canada’s main stock index opened up Thursday, helped by gains in mining shares. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both started at record levels with an improved reading on U.S. jobless claims boosting sentiment.

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At 9:32 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 80.67 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 20,245.06.

In the U.S., the S&P 500 opened higher by 15.13 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 4,256.97, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 85.5 points, or 0.60 per cent, to 14357.265 at the opening bell.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 59.67 points, or 0.18%, at the open to 33,933.91.

“The market tantrums of the last few days still appear to be tempering the upside and introducing an element of caution, as investors start to look towards the end of the quarter, as investors start to look more at the outlook for employment, as well as inflation,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst with CMC Markets U.K., said.

Earlier in the week, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell offered investors further assurances that the central bank sees a recent rise in inflation as transitory and has no immediate plans to tighten policy in response. Last week, the Fed surprised investors by indicating that two rate hikes could be in the cards by 2023, sooner than many had expected.

However, two Fed officials said on Wednesday a period of high inflation could last longer than anticipated, with Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic expecting a rate hike in late 2022, according to a Reuters report.

Ahead of the start of trading, U.S. investors got the latest reading on the state of the U.S. employment market. The U.S. Labor Department said weekly initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell to 411,000. Economists had been expecting a decline to about 380,000.

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On the corporate side, earnings are due from Nike and FedEx. Both are due after the close of trading.

Canadian investors get results from BlackBerry after the end of the trading day.

On Wednesday, more than 40 per cent of BlackBerry shareholders showed displeasure with the company’s pay practices at its annual meeting amid controversy over stock payouts for chief executive officer John Chen. Glass Lewis & Co. and Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS), two major proxy advisory firms, recommended “no” votes on BlackBerry’s non-binding vote on executive compensation, also known as “say on pay.” Only 59 per cent of shareholders voted in favour.

Elsewhere, The Globe’s Andrew Willis reports that Google Canada is partnering with eight publishers, including The Globe and Mail, in a licensing agreement that will see the firm pay for news content as part of parent Alphabet Inc.’s US$1-billion global commitment to media companies. The tech giant is launching a product called Google News Showcase in Canada this fall, a platform that will see the company pay news organizations across the country for access to content and give media companies an opportunity to sell online advertising around their stories, as well as sign up new subscribers.

Overseas, the pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.67 per cent by afternoon. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.56 per cent. Early Thursday, the Bank of England kept the size of its bond-buying program unchanged and left its key rate at a record low of 0.1 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.62 per cent and 1.02 per cent, respectively.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei ended flat. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.23 per cent.

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Commodities

Oil prices gained for a second day after new figures showed a drawdown in U.S. crude inventories.

The day range on Brent is US$75.09 to US$75.78. The day range on West Texas Intermediate is US$72.98 to US$73.61. Brent added 0.5 per cent on Wednesday while WTI rose 0.3 per cent.

Sentiment was underpinned by fresh figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing U.S. crude inventories fell by 7.6 million barrels in the week to June 18 to 459.1 million barrels, their lowest since March 2020. The decline was nearly twice that expected by analysts polled by Reuters.

“Official U.S. crude inventories and gasoline inventories fell by much higher than expected totals overnight, leading to an intra-day spike in crude prices,” OANDA senior analyst Jeffrey Halley said in an early note.

“However, subtle hints from Saudi Arabian and Russian officials about oil production and inflation muted the gains. Oil markets shifted higher the probability of a move by OPEC+ next week to open the taps.”

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OPEC and its allies are set to meet July 1 and reports earlier this week have suggested that there have been discussions about pulling back last year’s output cuts from August, although no decision has been made.

In other commodities, gold prices were steady.

Spot gold was little changed at US$1,779.30 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures were down 0.1 per cent to US$1,780.80.

“The market remains nervous about earlier lift-off entrenched inflation-type headlines,” Mr. Halley said.

“Its inflation-hedging correlation being weak versus its correlation to the US dollar and US yields for now.”

Currencies

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The Canadian dollar edged higher in early going while its U.S. counterpart held steady against a group of world currencies.

The day range on the loonie is 81.21 US cents to 81.37 US cents.

There were no major Canadian economic releases due Thursday.

“There is little on the domestic calendar to affect trading in the near term (the next big release is the April GDP report next Wednesday),” Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist with Scotiabank, said.

“Spreads, the risk mood and commodities/terms of trade remain CAD-supportive and augur positively for the CAD in the short run at least, given that these variables broadly suggest the CAD still looks ‘cheap’.”

On world markets, the U.S. dollar index, which weighs the greenback against a group of currencies, inched lower to 91.738, having pared back some gains after hitting a two-month high of 92.408 on Friday, according to figures from Reuters.

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The euro was slightly higher against the U.S. dollar, up 0.1 per cent on the day at $1.1939.

Britain’s pound edged lower in early London trading, down 0.1 per cent at US$1.3962 and 85.495 pence per euro.

More company news

The Globe’s James Bradshaw reports Toronto-Dominion Bank is shuffling its senior ranks as the long-time head of its investment dealer prepares to retire. Bob Dorrance will step down as chief executive officer of TD Securities on September 1, after leading the dealer since 2005, but stay on as its chairman. He will also continue to advise Bharat Masrani, TD’s CEO, extending a close relationship between the two senior bankers.

Microsoft Corp will show off on Thursday the first major revamp of its Windows operating system since 2015. Analysts expect the successor to Windows 10 to be called Windows 11 and to contain updates for business users that could make it easier to use with dual-monitor setups. It may also hold updates for PC gamers, another important customer base for Microsoft, including an Xbox app.

Canada Goose Holdings Inc said on Thursday it would stop making its products with fur by the end of 2022. The company, which in 2020 unveiled plans to introduce reclaimed fur into its supply chain, will also stop buying fur by the end of this year.

Eli Lilly and Co said on Thursday it will apply for U.S. health regulator’s accelerated approval for its experimental Alzheimer’s drug this year, sending its shares up about 8% before the bell. The news comes weeks after Biogen Inc’s Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm, was approved under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s accelerated approval pathway, for which the agency came under intense criticism as questions were raised on the strength of the clinical data.

Economic news

(8:30 a.m. ET) Canada’s Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours for April

(8:30 a.m. ET) U.S. initial jobless claims for week of June 19.

(8:30 a.m. ET) U.S. real GDP and GDP Deflator for Q1.

With Reuters and The Canadian Press

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