North American equity markets rallied into the close on Wednesday, finishing near their highest levels of the session. The S&P/ TSX Composite Index, S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite Index all capped the session with gains of more than two-and-a quarter per cent after a volatile Tuesday trade.

The real estate, info-tech and health care sectors led the TSX higher.

While Canada’s benchmark index remains in technical bull-market territory, north of 20 per cent from its most recent bottom, there’s some skepticism stocks are in true rally mode.

In an email to BNN Bloomberg, Manulife Investment Management chief investment strategist and head of capital markets research Philip Petursson said he was unconvinced this was the beginning of a long-term trend.

“This is a classic bear-market trap, in a way, it’s pulling investors in but I think we are going to see a leg down,” he said.

“When we look at other recessionary markets … you tend to see a number of bear market rallies, only to disappoint.”

2:45 p.m. ET: North American markets extend gains into the afternoon

North American equity markets extended their gains into the afternoon trade, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index, S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite all trading more than two per cent higher to hold near their intra-day highs.

In Toronto, nine of the benchmark composite’s 11 sectors were in positive territory, led by real estate, information technology and consumer discretionary stocks. Only consumer staples and communications were in the red.

On a stock-specific basis, Chorus Aviation Inc.,  Intertape Polymer Inc. and Exchange Income Corp. were the biggest percentage gainers on the composite, each notching double-digit gains.

Oil gained, with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate rising more than seven-and-a-half per cent ahead of tomorrow’s virtual OPEC++ meeting. Alberta’s Western Canadian select pared earlier gains to rise 13 per cent, trading just shy of US$4.50 per barrel.

11:45 a.m. ET: North American equities accelerate gains into midday

North American equity markets accelerated their gains into midday, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index rising more than one-and-a-quarter per cent and the U.S. benchmark indices posting gains north of two per cent to trade at session highs.

The rebound comes after a volatile trading session Tuesday, which saw stocks whipsaw, with the S&P 500 falling three-and-a-half per cent from peak to trough.

In Toronto, eight of the TSX’s 11 sectors were in positive territory, with information technology, consumer discretionary and real estate posting the largest gains. Consumer staples, communications and materials bucked the positive trend.

On a stock-specific basis, Intertape Polymer Group Inc., Exchange Income Corp. and Seven Generations Ltd. were the largest percentage gainers.

The Canadian dollar showed weakness against its global peers. The loonie traded modestly lower against its American counterpart, at about 71.36 cents U.S. heading into midday.

Crude oil continued to post gains ahead of Thursday’s virtual OPEC++ meeting, with West Texas Intermediate rising more than three per cent ahead of the meeting, where potential production curtailments are on the table. Crude oil prices shrugged off a 15 million barrel buildup in U.S. inventories last week. Western Canadian Select rose more than 18 per cent to US$4.65 per barrel, though Canadian crude is only priced a few times daily.

9:35 a.m. ET: North American markets post modest gains at the open

North American equity markets posted modest advances in early trading, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index rising a little less than one per cent, S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite rising about one-and-a-quarter per cent at the open after a volatile Tuesday trade.

Oil prices pushed higher, with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate up two-and-a-half per cent ahead of Thursday’s virtual OPEC++ meeting. Crude got a lift on speculation the cartel and other producers could agree to a production cut of as much as 10 million barrels per day, though questions remain about what global output level those cuts will be based on, given Saudi Arabia’s massive increase in production during its oil price war with Russia.

The United States cuts its 2020 oil price forecast for 2020 by 1.2 million barrels per day ahead of the meeting.

Canadian crude began the day unchanged at US$3.92 per barrel (Western Canadian Select is only priced a handful of times per day). That comes after a dire warning from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who said Tuesday that Canadian crude prices could dip into negative territory in the face of the oil price war.