TSX hits record high

Canada's main stock index hit a record high Thursday thanks to broad-based gains including the heavyweight financial sector.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 64.23 points at 16,675.37 in early afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The index hit an intraday mark of 16,676.37 that beat the all-time high set in April.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 125.60 points at 27,262.64. The S&P 500 index was up 15.37 points at 3,016.30, while the Nasdaq composite was up 46.93 points at 8,216.61.

Stock markets rose after the United States delayed increasing tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese imports by two weeks as "a gesture of good will."

In Beijing, China's Commerce Ministry said Thursday that Chinese importers are asking U.S. suppliers for prices of soybeans, pork and other farm goods. It's a sign they might step up purchases of American agricultural products, a possible goodwill gesture ahead of talks next month aimed at ending the tariff war.

The European Central Bank also launched a stimulus drive to help the euro zone economy ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting next week when it is expected to lower interest rates.

In a wide-ranging package of measures that will ensure outgoing president Mario Draghi leaves his mark on ECB policies long after he departs next month, the bank cut one key interest rate further below zero. It trimmed the rate on deposits it takes from banks to minus 0.5 per cent from minus 0.4 per cent, a penalty that pushes banks to lend their excess cash.

The ECB, which sets policy for the 19 countries that use the shared euro currency, also said it would restart its bond-buying stimulus program, which pumps newly created money into the financial system to lower borrowing costs and help the economy. It will buy 20 billion euros (C$29.2 billion) a month in government and corporate bonds for as long as needed.

The Canadian dollar traded for 75.79 cents US compared with an average of 75.87 cents US on Wednesday.

The October crude contract was down 62 cents at US$55.13 per barrel and the October natural gas contract was up 1.1 cent at US$2.56 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up US$4.80 at US$1,508.00 an ounce and the December copper contract was up 3.25 cents at US$2.65 a pound.

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