TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index jumped more than 4 percent on Wednesday in its biggest single-day gain in more than two years, pushed up by an agreement by global central banks to tackle the euro-zone debt crisis and by a move by China to ease credit.
The move by the TSX index mirrored hefty gains on other global markets as central banks from the world’s leading economies, including the Bank of Canada, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, agreed to lower the cost of dollar swap lines by 50 basis points, as well other measures.
“Santa has come early and he happens to look a lot like (Fed Chairman) Ben Bernanke, right down to the beard, and in his bag he has lots and lots of U.S. dollars available to exchange for euros in unlimited amounts,” said Gavin Graham, president of Graham Investment Strategy.
Commodity prices, particularly for oil, gold and base metals, rose on renewed investor optimism for the global economy, lifting the TSX’s heavily weighted materials sector 6 percent.
The gains came as bullion prices climbed more than 2 percent in response to a falling U.S. dollar as central banks moved to inject more liquidity into the global financial system.
Miner Goldcorp rose 7.2 percent to C$54.95 and Barrick Gold was up 5 percent at C$54.05, to lead gains.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 471.61 points, or 4 percent, at 12,204.11. It was the TSX’s biggest single-day gain since March 23, 2009 when the market finished up more than 5 percent.
Copper rose more than 5 percent to a two-week high, helping to lift base metal miners more than 8 percent. First Quantum Minerals led the sector’s gains, leaping nearly 11 percent to C$20.60.
“All the risk assets, whether it’s gold or copper or oil or the Canadian dollar, are all shooting up and it’s likely that we’ll see a continuation of that (for the rest of the year),” Graham said.
The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters Jefferies CRB index was up more than 1 percent on the day, but was still on course to finish November with a loss after a dismal performance in the first three weeks of the month.
“Typically in a rebound as we’re now seeing, the sectors that do the worst (when markets are down) should do the best coming up,” said Pat McHugh, Canadian equity strategist at Manulife Asset Management. “This should be a good market for Canada.”
Energy issues, up 4.7 percent, and financial stocks, up nearly 4 percent, also were big contributors to the surge as rejuvenated investors pulled their money from the security of government bonds into riskier plays.
Suncor Energy jumped 5.1 percent to C$30.72 to lead energy gains. Royal Bank of Canada led financials, gaining 5 percent to C$47.26.
The global rally started early in the day when China’s central bank moved to ease credit strains by cutting reserve requirements for its commercial lenders by 50 basis points, the first such cut in nearly three years.
The Chinese policy shift and the move by central banks, strong U.S. jobs data and better than expected Canadian third-quarter economic growth all helped boost market sentiment. The U.S. figures showed the private sector added more than 200,000 jobs in November.
Canadian equities markets were “internally very oversold” over the last 10 days as worries about European debt contagion led to repeated selloffs, said Sid Mokhtari, market technician and director, institutional equity research, CIBC World Markets.
“You just needed a cause and you’ve got the catalyst this morning from China and from the coordinated effort of all the central bankers,” Mokhtari said.
The TSX might have risen higher if not for a technical glitch in the morning that froze trading of companies whose symbols started with the letters M to Z. The problem affected high-volume stocks such as Research In Motion and Sun Life Financial
In individual company news, TMX Group was down 0.7 percent at C$43.43 after the federal competition regulator said it has “serious concerns” about a C$3.8 billion proposal by the Maple Group consortium to take over TMX, owner of the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Editing by Rob Wilson and Peter Galloway