TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks surged to their highest since early May on Friday as grim U.S. jobs data fueled hopes for quick action from the Federal Reserve and China’s multibillion-dollar spending plans jolted mining companies higher.
Bullion raced to a six-month high, helping major gold miners, as U.S. jobs growth slowed, setting the stage for the Federal Reserve to pump additional money into the economy of Canada’s main trading partner as early as next week.
But base metal miners dwarfed those gains as Beijing signed off on $157 billion of projects to build highways, ports and airport runways, showing a proactive tilt as it looks to energize an economy mired in its worst slowdown in three years.
“It’s amazing what a few hundred billion will do for you,” said John Hughes, a senior mining analyst at Desjardins Securities.
Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO, a diversified miner which makes much of its revenue from coal used in industrial production, jumped 9.2 percent to C$29.51, leading an 8 percent charge in the overall base metals group.
Prices for gold, oil, copper and other metals all jumped sharply, giving the cluster of Toronto-listed companies that sell these commodities a major boost.
“They’re all up on the back of the view that China is not slowing, or more importantly, will not be slowing in the future,” Hughes said, pointing out that the detailed spending plans were approved by a new cadre of Communist Party leaders.
Investors also cheered signs the Federal Reserve would follow the European Central Bank in embarking on fresh monetary easing to help kickstart growth, after payroll data showed fewer jobs were created than anticipated.
“The jobs numbers out of the U.S. today further provides reason for QE3, which would be positive for gold,” said Philip Petursson, director of the portfolio advisory group at Manulife Asset Management, referring to a third round of bond-buying known as quantitative easing.
Overall, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE gained 128.28 points, or 1.06 percent, to close at 12,268.01, its highest closing level since May 1.
The move added to a sharp jump on Thursday after the ECB unveiled its plan to bring down the borrowing costs of struggling euro zone countries and gave the index a 2.67 percent gain for the week.
The world’s largest gold miner, Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) helped carry the index higher, rising 2.6 percent to C$39.27, while energy companies also gained. Canadian Natural Resources Inc (CNQ.TO) was the single biggest positive factor, adding 4.8 percent to C$31.54.
Crude, copper and other commodities moved higher, and the combination of news out of Europe, the United States and China suggested further rises in the Toronto index, which has underperformed world markets this year, were possible.
“This rally that started a couple of weeks ago could extend itself over the next couple of months, given some of the more positive news in just the last week,” Petursson said.
The governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, said that high commodity prices are unambiguously good for the economy and made clear the central bank would not counter commodity-driven increases in the value of the Canadian dollar.
In company news, shares in yogawear retailer Lululemon Athletica Inc LLL.TO jumped 12 percent to C$75.50 after the company reported higher quarterly profit and boosted its outlook, while vowing to push back against cheaper knock-offs that could threaten its business.
Garda World Security Corp GW.TO shares jumped 30 percent to C$11.90, just below the C$12 a share in cash offered by a consortium led by its founder and chief executive Stephan Cretier to take the security and cash-handling firm private.
Editing by James Dalgleish