TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed higher Thursday with mining stocks leading gains on the back of strong manufacturing reports from China and Europe.
The S&P/TSX composite index jumped 101.2 points to 12,674.35.
Traders' patience was sorely tried after technical difficulties led to a halt of Nasdaq traded stocks from around midday to about half an hour before the 4 p.m. EDT close. The index closed up 38.92 points at 3,638.71.
The Nasdaq exchange in New York sent out an alert to traders shortly after noon saying that trading was being halted because of problems with a quote dissemination system.
The outage didn't affect TSX trading but that didn't mean there weren't headaches on Canadian trading floors.
"It just becomes a lot more manual handling, it takes longer to get an order in, get it executed, get it back," said Fred Ketchen, manager of equity trading at Scotia Capital.
"It causes stress in some cases. Clients . . . put an order in and can’t understand why, after three or four minutes, it hasn’t been filled when under normal circumstances it would be filled in three or four seconds. But most people are more understanding."
Elsewhere in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was ahead 66.19 points to 14,963.74 and the S&P 500 index up 14.16 points to 1,656.96.
The Canadian dollar was lower amid retail sales data for June that was much weaker than economists were expecting. The currency closed down 0.39 of a cent at 95.09 cents US after Statistics Canada reported that retail sales fell by 0.6 per cent. Economists had forecast a 0.4 per cent dip following a strong 1.9 per cent rise in May.
Also, the American currency continued to strengthen after the minutes of the last Federal Reserve policy meeting, published Wednesday, showed most officials appeared comfortable with the idea of starting to reduce the Fed's monetary stimulus this year.
There was some disappointment that the Fed minutes didn’t contain clarity over whether the so-called tapering will begin in September or December. The Fed has been purchasing $85 billion of financial assets a month to lower interest rates and spur growth. The asset purchases have also helped keep a strong rally going on U.S. markets.
But the mood improved Thursday after a survey from HSBC provided further evidence that China, the world’s second-largest economy, may be over its recent soft patch. Its monthly purchasing managers’ index, a gauge of business activity, rose to 50.1 points for August from July’s 47.7. Numbers above 50 indicate an expansion in activity.
Meanwhile, the monthly composite PMI, which includes both manufacturing and services for the 17-country eurozone, rose to 51.7 in August from 50.4. The index, published by financial information company Markit, is now at its highest level since June 2011 and provides further evidence that the eurozone recovery from recession is gathering pace.
The positive data helped send oil and metal prices higher.
"We have a rebound in the metals sector of our market (and) that’s China and copper," added Ketchen.
"Every time you mention copper, you have to talk about China because they are big users. The activity going on over there is enormous."
The mining sector led advancers, up 4.18 per cent as September copper on the Nymex gained two cents to US$3.33 a pound. HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) improved by 35 cents to C$7.05 while Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) climbed $1.05 to $27.33.
The gold sector rose about 1.8 per cent while December bullion edged up 70 cents to US$1,370.80 an ounce.
Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) rose 61 cents to C$20.57. The Toronto-based company announced earlier Thursday that it will receive $300 million from the sale of three mines in Western Australia to South Africa-based Gold Fields Ltd.
The energy sector rose almost one per cent as the October crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed $1.18 to US$105.03 a barrel. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) was up 53 cents to C$35.38.
Outside of the resource groups, the industrials component was up 1.6 per cent with Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) ahead $4.42 to $128.33.
The financial sector climbed 0.55 per cent as Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) improved by 37 cents to $17.49.
On the corporate front, Hewlett-Packard shares fell 12.45 per cent to US$22.22 after the company missed on earnings and revenue in the latest quarter. Revenue fell eight per cent to $27.2 billion and earnings ex-items came in at 86 cents a share. Analysts had expected earnings of 87 cents per share on revenue of $27.3 billion, according to FactSet.
Shares in Abercrombie & Fitch plunged 17.67 per cent to US$38.53 as the retailer to teens missed analysts estimates and also gave a third-quarter earnings forecast well below expectations. The company earned US$11.4 million, or 14 cents per share. That’s down from $17.1 million, or 20 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue dipped one per cent to $945.7 million while U.S. sales fell eight per cent. Analysts had expected earnings of 28 cents per share on revenue of $996.7 million.
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