North American markets sharply higher despite mixed economic news

TORONTO – North American stock markets shot higher Friday as buyers returned in droves following a big sell-off the previous session.

Toronto’s S&P/TSX composite ended the day ahead 115.25 points at 15,339.77, recouping most of the previous session’s 123-point loss.

The loonie was down 0.63 of a U.S. cent at 82.26 cents.

Pushing the TSX higher were metals and mining stocks, which gained 4.1 per cent, as copper prices rose about six per cent for the week. July copper advanced 4.3 cents to US$2.93 a pound.

Wall Street markets made even better gains as traders set aside negative sentiment that followed a raft of uncertainty this week, including the timing of a future U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate boost and shaky results from several U.S. technology companies.

“They put a bit of a damper on the market,” said Norman Raschkowan, senior partner at Sage Road Advisers.

“Things got a little bit carried away and people are reorienting themselves.”

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 183.54 points to 18,024.06 and the Nasdaq soared 63.97 points to 5,005.39. The S&P 500 pushed ahead 22.78 points to 2,108.29.

Recent economic data from the U.S. gave a mixed bag of reasons for optimism and further caution.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose to 95.9 in April from 93.0 in March, mostly on a better outlook for the U.S. job market and consistently lower inflation.

The Institute for Supply Management index was unchanged in April from March at 51.5 per cent, indicating some expansion in factory output, but manufacturers are starting to curtail hiring in a possible sign of weakness. U.S. construction fell in March as an increase in non-residential construction was offset by declines in home building and government projects.

In other commodities, gold prices fell to their lowest level in six weeks with the June gold contract losing $7.90 to US$1,174.50 an ounce.

Oil prices continued to broadly move higher this week, though the June crude contract settled 48 cents lower Friday at US$59.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Shares of LinkedIn plunged 20 per cent after the business social networking service told shareholders it expects weaker earnings in the coming months due to its purchase of online learning company and a stronger U.S. dollar.

Expedia saw its stock jump eight per cent after the online travel company’s results beat rose analyst expectations.

The chief executive of the National Bank of Canada (TSX:NA), says the country’s sixth-largest bank could boost revenues by $500 million over the next three years by growing its operations at a faster pace outside of Quebec.

Chief executive Louis Vachon told an audience at the bank’s investor day that National Bank expects more than 40 per cent of its revenues will come from outside Quebec this year. Shares of the bank gained 15 cents to $48.90.

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