5:20 p.m. ET Market Wrap: North American markets rally after weak start to second quarter

North American equity markets ended the day solidly in positive territory after a rough start to the second quarter. The S&P/TSX composite index rose 1.72 per cent Thursday, lifted by rising oil prices, while the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite shrugged off earlier losses to post gains of between 1.7 and 2.3 per cent to finish near session highs.

Crude oil got a bid, with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate rising more than 20 per cent after U.S President Donald Trump tweeted that Saudi Arabia and Russia would come to the table to make major output cuts in the range of 10 to 15 million barrels per day, though uncertainty is swirling around whether those cuts will come to fruition. The Saudis and Russians have been locked in an oil price war after Riyadh opened the taps when Moscow refused to curtail production. Alberta’s Western Canadian Select surged 66 per cent, though it remains in the eight-dollar per barrel range.

That jump in crude price helped lift the Canadian dollar, which rose to 70.72 cents U.S. at 4:45 p.m. ET after flirting with the sub-70 cents level earlier in the day.

In Toronto, energy, materials and financials added the most points in Thursday’s trade as nine of the composite’s 11 sectors finished in positive territory. MEG Energy Corp, Frontera Energy Corp. and Secure Energy Services Inc. were the largest percentage gainers. Shopify Inc., which had been under pressure from the open after the company pulled its guidance, was the worst performer on the benchmark index.


1:40 p.m. ET: HL: North American Markets pare gains into the afternoon

North American equity markets pared earlier gains Thursday afternoon. The S&P/TSX composite index, S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite all remained in positive territory, but retreated from earlier highs.

Toronto’s benchmark index was the best performer of the quartet, as rising oil prices lifted the TSX. Energy, materials and financials led the index higher. Torc Oil and Gas Ltd., MEG Energy Corp. and Surge Energy Inc. all posted gains of north of 20 per cent.

Shopify Inc. remained in the doldrums with a more than 10 per cent decline.

10:40 a.m. ET: North American markets rally, oil surges

North American markets are rallying and oil is surging after U.S. President Donald Trump said he spoke to the Saudis and Russians and expected the two countries to cut crude production by 10 million barrels per day. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate rose as much as 35 per cent in the wake of Trump’s comments.

In Toronto, that sent energy names dramatically higher. MEG Energy Corp. surged 49 per cent, Paramount Resources Ltd. and Crescent Point Energy Corp. both notched more than 40 per cent gains.

9:45 a.m. ET: North American markets were mixed in early trading, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index getting a lift from higher oil prices and the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq losing ground in the wake of the jobless claims report south of the border

U.S. equity market futures were initially pointing to a rally at the open, but the record 6.65-million jobless claims last week in the U.S. took some of the steam out of that rally.

Oil prices remained solidly in the green, with the U.S. benchmark West Texas intermediate rallying on reports China is planning to ramp up crude purchases for its strategic reserve in the wake of oil’s epic crash. China is the world’s largest importer of crude, so aggressive purchases could help soak up some of the global supply glut.

That rally in oil prices wasn’t enough to give the Canadian dollar a lift, with the loonie once again flirting with the 70-cents U.S. level.

In Toronto, a slate of energy companies was among the lead gainers to start the day, with Nuvista Energy Ltd., Ensign Energy Services Inc. and CES Energy Solutions Corp. posting double-digit gains.

On the flip side, shares of Shopify Inc. fell about six per cent after the company suspended it full-year forecast in the face of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

The VIX Index, a widely-followed measure of market volatility, rose in the wake of the record jobless claims report after an initially-muted morning trade.

The volatility in markets is expected to persist while investors digest the potential impact of the virus outbreak. In an email to BNN Bloomberg, Philip Petursson, chief investment strategist at Manulife Investment Management, said investors should prepare for wild swings in the current environment.

“Equity markets are going to be bouncing like a yo-yo for a while yet,” he said.

“We are likely to retest the lows a couple of times before this is over.  Like any yo-yo, today’s upward lift will be weaker than yesterday’s roll down.”