S&P 500 chalks up record high as fear gives way

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       Asian markets were off to the races Monday

The S&P/TSX Composite Index climbed 54.98 points to conclude Monday at 15,040.30. US crude was off 0.04 percent at $48.05 a barrel after settling 1.2 percent higher overnight. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.74 a gallon.

US crude was trading 36 cents firmer at $47.84 a barrel, while Brent rose 22 cents to $54.00.

Financial stocks were among the most influential movers on the index, though gains by the big banks were generally moderate.

In another sign investors were willing to take more risks, gold lost 15.50 dollars, or 1.1%, to 1,335.70 dollars an ounce.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose more than 0.2 per cent.

But, undoubtedly, the star among individual stocks was Tahoe, who benefited from a Guatemalan court ruling to balloon in price $1.84, or 32.3%, to $7.53. Demand for safer assets, including gold, also weakened after storm Irma wreaked less damage than feared in Florida.

Instead North Korea observed the 69th anniversary of its founding on Saturday with a celebration honouring the scientists behind the massive nuclear test it conducted last week.

Economically speaking, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the annual pace of housing starts in August increased compared with July. The monthly rate came in line with expectations.

All but three of the 12 TSX subgroups were positive to end the day, as health-care sprang 1.6%, information technology was better by 1.1%, and financials were 0.8% to the good.

Materials and utilities were the only groups that retreated.

Meanwhile, London Capital Group's Ipek Ozkardeskaya said the actual damages caused by Irma could end up being less than $50bn versus the $192bn estimate which some pundits had bandied about prior to it making landfall, meaning USA insurers could take a breather on Monday.

Energy shares rose 0.8 percent as oil prices climbed.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index made its biggest gain since late April as it rose 26.68 points, or 1.1%, to finish at a record high of 2,488.11.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI jumped 259.58 points, or 1.19 percent, to 22,057.37.

Irma is expected to continue to weaken as it moves further inland. Natural gas rose 6 cents to 2.95 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet.

Florida insurers gained more. Royal Caribbean Cruises jumped 4.24 dollars, or 3.6%, to 121.69 dollars and American Airlines gained 2.26 dollars, or 5.2%, to 45.86 dollars. Carnival, a cruise line company, also saw its shares advance 3.2%.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes climbed nearly four basis points to 2.09 per cent. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The greenback had retreated against major rivals for much of last week, and especially Friday, as natural disasters, geopolitical tensions and a continued pullback in Treasury yields cast a pall over the US currency, with exchange rates for the Japanese yen, the euro and the pound at recent notable highs on their own fundamental drivers.

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