TSX hits 2-1/2 year high as jobs data lifts commodities

Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:50pm EST
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By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index advanced to its highest in about 2-1/2 years on Friday as disappointing North American jobs data proved to be a boon to commodity prices, helping drive up shares of natural resource companies.

Prices of gold, oil and other commodities gained on speculation that soft U.S. employment figures for December would push the U.S. Federal Reserve to slow the wind-down of its monetary stimulus program. <GOL/> <O/R>

It was the benchmark index's biggest single-day percentage jump in more than three weeks and its fourth straight daily gain.

After trailing its U.S. peers in 2013, the Canadian index appeared to be gathering momentum this week. It outperformed the S&P 500 .SPX on Friday.

"We'll probably keep pace with the United States in 2014," said Philip Petursson, managing director, portfolio advisory group, at Manulife Asset Management. "Whether we'll outpace the U.S. is the real question."

"Earnings will drive the market this year," he added. "The prospects (for Canadian companies) are looking vastly improved over 2013."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 118.11 points, or 0.87 percent, at 13,747.52, after rising as high as 13,750.66, its strongest level since mid-2011.

The index ended the week 1.5 percent higher.   Continued...

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch