Canadian bank earnings and a big contract for transport giant Bombardier Inc. helped push the Toronto Stock Exchange higher Thursday, bucking the global trend of declining bourses.


CIBC's strong earnings helped buoy the TSX on Thursday. ((CBC))

The benchmark S&P/TSX composite index closed at 11,631.14, up 109.31 points on the day. The exchange had earlier been roughly 100 points in negative territory, before strong quarterly results from National Bank and CIBC drove a short bull run.

"CIBC and National results exceeded the consensus so now it's getting everybody more optimistic about what the bank numbers might look like," said Norman Raschkowan, chief investment officer at Mackenzie Financial Corp.

Bombardier Inc. was also a reason for optimism as the company announced a $3.1-billion US deal to sell 40 of its CS300 jet airliners to Republic Airways Holdings, a U.S. operator of 1,600 daily flights under half a dozen different airline names.

Bombardier shares closed up more than seven per cent to $5.87.

Wall Street moved in the opposite direction as jobless insurance claims rose by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 496,000. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast a drop in claims to 455,000. It was the second straight week that such claims have unexpectedly jumped.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 10,321.03, down 53.13 points. The tech-laden NASDAQ was at 2,234.22 down 1.68, while the broader S&P 500 was at 1,102.94, down 2.30.

The loonie lost nearly a cent, down 0.48 of a US cent to close at 94.40 US cents.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 64.69 points, or 1.2 per cent, at 5,278.23 while Germany's DAX slid 83.18 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 5,532.33. The CAC-40 in France was 74.91 points, or two per cent, lower at 3,640.77.


Three-month stock chart for the benchmark Canadian index. ((CBC))

European markets were rattled by renewed fears over wobbly economies in Greece and Spain. Concerns that Greece will struggle to cut its budget and get debt problems under control came to the front after Standard & Poor's said the country's credit rating could be cut one to two notches within a month.

A two-notch downgrade would take S&P's rating on Greece to BBB-, the lowest level accepted by the European Central Bank as collateral for loans. Moody's current rating on Greece is A2, although that may be lowered soon.

Spain exacerbated worries in the euro zone with news that Europe's fourth-largest economy has contracted for four consecutive quarters and now has a 19 per cent unemployment rate.

Earlier in Asia, the Nikkei 225 stock average fell 96.87 points, or one per cent, to 10,101.96, while South Korea's Kospi lost 1.6 per cent to 1,587.51 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 per cent to 20,399.57.

Elsewhere, Australia's market dropped 1.2 per cent but Shanghai's benchmark defied the downward swing, rising 1.3 per cent.