TSX, Dow Jones indexes higher after long weekend

TORONTO -- Investors returned Tuesday from holiday weekends in the U.S. and Canada in buying moods, sending indexes in New York and Toronto higher.

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The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 115.34 points or just under one per cent at 12,496.58 at mid-afternoon, adding to a 294-point gain on Friday.

In New York, enthusiasm was even stronger as the Dow Jones industrial average shot up 200.24 points or 1.25 per cent to 16,174.08.

The broader S&P 500 composite index rose 28.63 points or 1.54 per cent to 1,893.41, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 93.08 points or 2.15 per cent to 4,430.59.

The commodity-sensitive Canadian dollar slipped as oil and precious metals prices weakened, easing back 0.08 of a U.S. cent to 72.06 cents US.

In commodities, the March contract for benchmark North American crude oil fell 45 cents to US$28.99 a barrel after a big run-up on Friday, while March natural gas shed six cents to US$1.91 per mmBtu. April gold plunged $36.10 to US$1,203.30 a troy ounce, while March copper added two cents to US$2.05 a pound.

The TSX was closed Monday for Ontario's Family Day and American stock markets were closed for Presidents' Day.

The retreat in oil prices followed big gains on Friday and came despite word of an agreement Tuesday between Russia and Saudi Arabia to freeze their oil output, but only if other OPEC countries agree to do the same.

Analysts believe Iran is unlikely to go along because it wants to ramp up production now that economic sanctions have been removed.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei index added 0.2 per cent after soaring 7.2 per cent on Monday on investor hopes that the government will announce even more lavish stimulus moves in the face of a slowing economy.

And Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 1.1 per cent as the yuan hit its highest level of the year against other currencies and the official Xinhua new agency reported loans surged 71 per cent in January, both signs of a possible strengthening of China's economy.

In Europe, Germany's DAX lost 0.8 per cent and France's CAC 40 dipped 0.1 per cent, while Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.7 per cent.


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