North American stock markets advance for third session in a row

TORONTO -- North American stock markets advanced strongly for a third consecutive session Wednesday amid a sharp rebound in oil prices and encouraging data from U.S.

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At mid-afternoon, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 298.78 points or 2.38 per cent at 12,853.76, more than making up ground lost in a five-day string of losses last week.

The Canadian dollar was also soaring, up almost a penny at 73 cents US. The last time the loonie closed above 73 cents US was on Dec. 10, when it finished at 73.36 cents.

In New York, major indexes were also up strongly for a third consecutive day, with the Dow Jones soaring 262.15 or 1.62 per cent to 16,458.56. The broader S&P 500 added 32.25 points or 1.70 per cent to 1,927.83, while the Nasdaq composite was 98.96 points or 2.23 per cent higher at 4,534.92.

On commodity markets, the March crude contract for benchmark U.S. oil was poised to close above the US$30-a-barrel mark for the first time in more than a week. It was up $1.81 at US$30.85 not long before the close.

Elsewhere in commodities, March natural gas was up four cents at US$1.95 per mmbtu, while March copper gained two cents to US$207 a pound. April gold gave back $2.30 to US$1,205.90 an ounce.

Besides resurgent oil, traders also took heart from the latest report from the Federal Reserve which said U.S. factory output rose 0.5 per cent in January, the biggest increase since July, after contracting for four consecutive months.

In corporate news, stock in Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) shot up 20 cents or 21.67 per cent to $1.10 in afternoon trading after the embattled plane and train builder disclosed it was shedding 7,000 jobs wordwide in a streamlining effort, while also announcing the sale of up to 75 of its new CSeries jetliners to Air Canada (TSX:AC).

In earlier trading in Europe, Germany's DAX rose 2.7 per cent, France's CAC 40 added three per cent and Britain's FTSE 100 was up 2.9 per cent.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.4 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell one per cent while the Shanghai Composite rose 1.1 per cent.



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