Toronto, U.S. stock markets solidly higher amid optimism on Greece, China

TORONTO – North American markets posted solid gains Friday as traders took in encouraging developments in the Greek debt negotiations and a rebound on Chinese markets that continued to gain traction.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 132.58 points at 14,411.07, as the latest employment survey from Statistics Canada that showed a big increase in full-time employment in June despite an overall loss of 6,400 jobs as 71,200 part-time positions were eliminated.

“I loved the gains in full-time jobs,” said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at Holliswealth. “One of the biggest knocks on our economy, when we did grow jobs, was that most of them were part time.”

“But overall, in terms of the markets, where I focus my attention, it had very little effect.”

“We are still today, and probably at least until early next week, Greece dependant and who knows how long we’ll be China dependant until things (there) settle down.”

In New York, Dow Jones industrial soared 211.79 points to 17,760.41, although the widely watched index ended the week only slightly above where it started.

The Nasdaq shot up 75.30 points to 4,997.70 and the S&P 500 advanced 25.31 points to 2,076.62.

The Canadian dollar rose for a second consecutive day, up 0.17 of a U.S. cent to 78.87 cents.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the August crude oil contract settled at US$52.74 a barrel, down four cents, while August gold lost $1.30 to US$1,157.90 an ounce.

Overseas, Chinese markets advanced strongly for a second day following a three-week skid in the wake of strong moves by government and regulatory authorities to halt selling and promote buying. Overall, the Shanghai Composite Index jumped 4.5 per cent, although it is still down 24 per cent this month.

Meanwhile, Greece and its creditors appeared to be narrowing their differences after Athens offered an austerity package that included concessions in key areas such as tax increases and cuts to pensions.

Representatives from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are assessing the proposals in advance of a meeting on Sunday of finance ministers from the full 28-member European Union.

Small said the latest proposals by Athens shows Greece wants to remain in the euro and the positive response on markets “is showing you today that everyone is happy about the situation.”

“Now we’ll just have to wait and see if the European finance ministers all agree that this a something they can work with an hopefully this whole situation will come to a close.”

Meanwhile, volatility on markets in China, whose economy has a major influence on the direction of oil, copper and other commodities, will also remain a focus.

“I know a lot of traders who were saying the Chinese situation, in many instances, is actually more worrisome than the Greek situation because of the magnitude of the country that we’re talking about,” Small said.