Major North American indexes move up, while gold continues setting records

TORONTO — Major North American indexes advanced Thursday, while the price of gold reached a new height.

Markets were up "modestly," said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp, with gains at or below one per cent.

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The S&P/TSX composite index gained 77.49 points to 16,579.10.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 185.46 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 27,386.98. The S&P 500 index advanced 21.39 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 3,349.16 while the Nasdaq composite added 109.67 points, or one per cent, to 11,108.07.

The lift came from "positive data," including a weekly report on U.S. jobless claims, said Chopra.

The U.S. Department of Labour said Thursday that 1,186,000 people applied for unemployment benefits in the week ending August 1. That's down 249,000 from a revised figure for the previous week of 1,435,000.

The nearly 1.2 million figure is "the lowest level since the pandemic began," said Chopra, "so that was a positive."

However, that was offset by issues around whether or not Congress would reach a deal on a new coronavirus relief package, he said.

"Both parties have to agree to a coronavirus relief package and that's moving along, but slowly."

Democrats and Republicans are continuing negotiations and have set a goal of reaching a deal by the end of the week. A Wednesday session produced no progress and politicians in the two parties traded criticism Thursday.

With the recent end of a $600 weekly jobless benefit from the U.S. government, investors say more aid is crucial.

In commodities, the price of gold again hit a record, surpassing Wednesday's high of nearly US$2,050 an ounce.

The December gold contract rose US$20.10 to US$2,069.40 an ounce.

The Canadian dollar traded for 75.23 US compared with 75.40 on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in commodities the September crude contract shed 24 cents to US$41.95 per barrel and the September natural gas contract retreated nearly three cents to roughly US$2.17 per mmBTU. The September copper contract fell about a penny to US$2.91 a pound.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD)

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