TSX, dollar rise sharply

The Toronto stock market surged almmost 190 points Thursday as traders shrugged off some glum economic data.
A man walks past a building in Toronto that used to house the Toronto Stock Exchange. The TSX was sharply higher on Thursday. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

The Toronto stock market surged almost 190 points Thursday as traders shrugged off some glum economic data.   

Instead, investors concentrated on a surprisingly strong start to the corporate earnings season and a positive assessment of the economy from the U.S. Federal Reserve.   

The S&P/TSX composite index chalked up a solid gain for a second session, closing ahead 187.89 points to 12,214.65.

The World Bank trimmed its growth outlook for China this year to 8.2 per cent from 8.4 per cent. It cited U.S. and European economic woes and Chinese lending and investment curbs imposed to cool an overheated economy.   

The bank stressed it still expects a gradual slowdown at the world's second-biggest economy but added that Beijing should be ready to launch new stimulus if needed.   

China has been a major force in helping the global economy recover from the 2008 financial crisis and recession. Its huge appetite for commodities has sent prices for oil and metals higher, along with resource stocks on the TSX.   

But the government has been clear about its intentions to rein in an overheated economy for some time.

Chinese GDP out tomorrow   

"I'm shocked any time someone is surprised at the comments coming from China that their economy is slowing down," said Philip Petursson, director of institutional equities at Manulife Asset Management.   

The World Bank report came out a day ahead of the release of China's first-quarter economic growth figures.   

Rising commodities helped push the Canadian dollar up 0.97 of a cent to 100.55 cents US.   

U.S. markets were higher despite a report from the U.S. Labour Department that said weekly unemployment benefit applications jumped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 380,000, the highest level in two months.   

The Dow Jones industrials rose 181.19 points to 12,986.58   

The Nasdaq composite index gained 39.09 points to 3,055.55 and the S&P 500 index gained 18.86 points to 1,387.57.

North American markets broke a five-day losing streak Wednesday amid a strong start to the corporate earnings season and reassuring words on the economy from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Aluminum giant Alcoa Inc. reported a surprise profit Tuesday while the Federal Reserve's latest reading on economic conditions said that each of the Fed's 12 bank districts grew at a modest to moderate pace from mid-February through April 2. And the Fed's so-called Beige Book survey noted that hiring was steady or increased in most of the country.   

"Things are actually better than we thought," Petursson added.   

"And we're hearing a lot more of that. Fundamentals continue to show the strength and investors need to embrace that."   

There was also relief that Italian and Spanish 10-year bond yields moved slightly lower in a second day of easing. A sharp rise in Italian and Spanish yields earlier in the week had underlined fears that borrowing costs could hit unsustainably high levels.   

Spain is the euro zone's fourth-largest economy, while Italy is the third-largest euro zone economy as well as the third-largest global market for government bonds.   

Copper prices recovered somewhat from a string of losses. The metal, viewed as an economic barometer because it is used in so many industries, had lost about seven per cent over the last week amid soft trade data from China, the biggest consumer of the metal. But on Thursday, copper was ahead eight cents to $3.72 US a pound.

The May crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 94 cents to $103.64 US a barrel.

June bullion prices shed early losses and gained $20.30 to $1,680.60 US an ounce.