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S&P/TSX composite gains more than 100 points, U.S. markets also rise

A TSX ticker is shown in Toronto on May 10, 2013.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn. FNG

Canada’s main stock index was up more than 100 points Thursday with broad-based gains led by the base metals sector, while U.S. markets also rose.

Equity markets continued their hopeful bent Thursday as fears about a contagious banking crisis eased, said Ian Chong, associate portfolio manager for First Avenue Investment Counsel Inc.

“Hope isn’t necessarily a strategy, but it’s always good to have a little bit of hope,” he said.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 103.34 points at 19,940.99.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 141.43 points at 32,859.03. The S&P 500 index was up 23.02 points at 4,050.83,while the Nasdaq composite was up 87.24 points at 12,013.47.

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Federal Reserve officials stressed Thursday that curbing inflation is still the main focus for the U.S. central bank, putting a bit of a brief damper on the market midday but failing to swing stocks, said Chong.

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Some new economic data Thursday may point toward a potential pause by the Federal Reserve in May, said Chong. U.S. initial jobless claims were slightly higher, though they remained at historically low levels, and the government revised its GDP estimates for last quarter slightly downward, especially on consumer spending.

But currently, markets are essentially split on whether the central bank will pause or hike interest rates at its next meeting, said Chong. He added a lot could happen in the coming month, with a bevy of economic data to be released and the start to first-quarter earnings reports.

“The markets are so fluid right now,” he said.

Chong said there’s a disconnect between optimism that rates could be cut in 2023 and the reality that rate cuts this year would likely be the result of a recession.

“There has to be some sort of reconciliation,” he said.

Oil prices ticked closer to US$75 a barrel, which Chong attributed to news Wednesday that U.S. crude inventories fell.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.89 cents US compared with 73.66 cents US on Wednesday.

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The May crude contract was up US$1.40 at US$74.37 per barrel and the May natural gas contract was down eight cents at US$2.10 per mmBTU.

The June gold contract was up US$13.20 at US$1,997.70 an ounce and the May copper contract was down half a penny at US$4.09 a pound.

– With files from The Associated Press

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