Markets positive, loonie lower, oil hovers around US$28

TORONTO -- North American markets headed higher today after the chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Reserve said any future rate hikes would come gradually and may actually be held off for a while if economic growth is disappointing.

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The S&P/TSX composite index was up 68.26 points or about 0.6 per cent at 12,350.91 after about 90 minutes of trading.

The New York markets were also positive, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 72.80 points at 16,087.18.

The broader S&P 500 composite index jumped 15.58 points to 1,867.79 and the Nasdaq composite added 57.51 points to 4,326.27.

The March contract for a benchmark crude was up 27 cents at $28.21 per barrel, although it had been below $28 earlier.

The Canadian dollar -- which is often influenced by the price of crude -- was at 71.81 cents US, down 0.24 of a cent.

On the commodity markets, the April gold contract declined $14.50 to US$1,184.10 a troy ounce, March copper dipped 2.5 cents to US$2.145 and natural gas fell 5.8 cents to US$2.04 per mmBtu.



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