Stocks rose on Thursday as investors reacted to Wednesday night's U.S. presidential debate and a relatively benign report on jobless claims.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,575.36, up 80.75 points or 0.6 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1461.40, up 10.41 points or 0.7 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,447.68, up 88.21 points or 0.7 per cent.
The gains follow the first debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, in which many observers – including Democrat supporters – believed Mr. Romney (Wall Street's candidate of choice, given what they see as his "pro-business" agenda) outperformed Mr. Obama.
Initial jobless claims for the period ended last week rose less than expected, rising to 367,000, up 4,000. Economists had been expecting 370,000 claims. The report comes a day ahead of the much-anticipated U.S. non-farm payrolls report for September, released on Friday morning.
Meanwhile, Europe continued to look gloomy. The European Central Bank held its key interest rate unchanged at 0.75 per cent. However, it downgraded growth prospects for the region. It now believes economic activity will contract by 0.4 per cent, worse than an earlier projection of a 0.1 per cent dip.
Within the S&P 500, economically sensitive stocks showed the biggest gains. Financials rose 1.3 per cent, materials rose 1.2 per cent, energy stocks rose 1 per cent and consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.7 per cent.
Crude oil rebounded from Wednesday's slide, rising to $90.31 (U.S.) a barrel, up $2.17. Among Canadian oil producers, Suncor Energy Inc. rose 1.3 per cent and Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. rose 0.8 per cent.
Gold rose to $1,796.50 an ounce, up $16.70 and marking its highest level of the year. Barrick Gold Corp. rose 1.8 per cent.
Facebook Inc. announced that the social media site now had 1 billion active monthly users, up 45 million since June. However, the share price rose just 0.5 per cent.