TORONTO - Signs that major pillars of the global economy may be in better shape than thought, along with strong earnings reports, sent North American stock markets sharply higher on Thursday.
The S&P/TSX composite index ran ahead 174.76 points to 14,486.83, as traders resumed buying stocks beaten down during the sharp retracement of the last few weeks after pausing Wednesday.
But analysts have warned there is no assurance that markets have reached bottom in the course of this correction and volatility will be a factor for a while yet.
"The market now is trying to settle at the new normal," said Kash Pashootan, portfolio manager at First Avenue Advisory in Ottawa, a Raymond James company.
"And the new normal is one where valuations are not deeply discounted, they‘re fairly valued and the new normal is one where there will be month-to-month volatility."
The Canadian dollar gained 0.08 of a cent to 89.02 cents US.
New York's Dow Jones industrials jumped 216.58 points to 16,677.9, the Nasdaq was up 69.94 points at 4,452.79 and the S&P 500 index rose 23.71 points to 1,950.82.
Buyers were encouraged after financial information company Markit said its composite purchasing managers' index for the eurozone rose to 52.2 points in October from 52.0 in September. The index is a gauge of business activity across the manufacturing and services sectors and anything above 50 indicates expansion.
A major reason for the decline on stock markets in September and October was worry about the state of the global economy and, more particularly, fears that the eurozone was about to slip back into recession.
Also, HSBC's preliminary version of an index based on a survey of Chinese factory purchasing managers rose to 50.4 from 50.2 in September.
Caterpillar also helped lift marekts and its shares jumped five per cent as the heavy equipment maker reported third-quarter profit of $1.02 billion or $1.63 a share. Earnings ex-items were $1.72 a share, breezing past expectations of $1.33 a share. Caterpillar also posted revenue of $13.55 billion in the period, surpassing street forecasts of $13.37 billion.
The Caterpillar report was especially welcome because "it's a meaningful indicator of overall general economic activity and so that does fuel some optimism into the TSX," Pashootan said.
In other earnings news, Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) handed in adjusted earnings of $405 million or 78 cents a share — six cents below estimates and its shares fell 63 cents to $42.80.
Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) was a market positive, up $1.70 or 6.5 per cent to $27.97 as the oilsands producer beat analyst estimates on several key measures in the third quarter, including cash flow per share at $1.30, 15 cents ahead of estimates. Operating earnings came in at 49 cents a share, eight cents better than forecast.
The energy sector led advancers, up 2.3 per cent while December crude moved ahead $1.57 to US$82.09 a barrel after data showing U.S. inventories much higher than expected last week and a higher U.S. currency had pushed prices to a two-year low.
The base metals component edged one per cent higher as December copper gained two cents to US$3.04 a pound.
Financials and industrials also provided major support to the TSX.
The gold sector also turned supportive, up about 0.25 per cent even as December bullion fell $16.40 to US$1,229.10 an ounce.