TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index advanced for a sixth straight session on Thursday, helped by resources sectors as U.S. economic data and a stronger-than-expected earnings performance from fertilizer producer Potash Corp POT.TO buoyed sentiment.
Investors were encouraged by data showing the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, offering reassurance that the bottom is not falling out of the U.S. labor market.
Thanks to its string of gains, the Toronto index, which posted its biggest jump in more than eight months on Wednesday, has erased almost all the losses incurred during a massive commodities-led rout earlier this month.
“Valuations of a number of commodity producers are at bargain levels,” said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
“They are attractive enough to entice investors who are taking a longer-term view of the situation,” he added.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 59.08 points, or 0.48 percent, at 12,329.51, hitting its highest point since a big selloff on April 15. Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Despite the gains, the index is still down 0.8 percent on the year, compared with a 10.7 percent rise for the S&P 500.
“The TSX is staging a bit of a recovery,” said Keith G. Richards, portfolio manager and technical analyst at ValueTrend Wealth Management. “I see this near-term rally as a near-term rally, and that’s all.”
He said he expects weakness in banks and commodities to hold the index back over the next couple of months.
A 2.7 percent gain in Potash Corp to C$41.72 and a rise in gold-mining shares lifted the index’s materials sector 1.8 percent.
The price of bullion posted its biggest daily rise since June 2012 as physical buyers kept scooping up the metal at prices viewed as a bargain after the recent selloff. <GOL/>
Potash said it was abandoning efforts to take over Israel Chemicals Ltd (ICL.TA) because of strong opposition in Israel. The fertilizer giant also reported a stronger-than-expected 13 percent rise in profit after renewed sales to China and India.
“Potash has got near-term upside,” Richards said. “Positive news on the stock is going to push it a bit.”
Energy shares rose 0.7 percent, reflecting a rise in the price of oil. <O/R> Shares of Imperial Oil Ltd (IMO.TO) climbed 1.1 percent to C$40.51 after Canada’s No. 2 oil producer and refiner reported a first-quarter profit.
Financials, the index’s most heavily weighted sector, gained 0.2 percent.
Business software maker Open Text Corp OTC.TO reported a 25 percent rise in third-quarter adjusted profit as its cloud-based services business expanded. Open Text stock added 12.4 percent to C$64.91, and the index’s information technology sector was up 2.7 percent.
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Peter Galloway