OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index extended its rally to a fifth consecutive day on Thursday, lifted by solid gains in energy shares as oil prices hit a three-month high.
Momentum on Bay Street picked up in the afternoon, helped by minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve that showed the central bank thought the economy was close to warranting an interest rate hike in September but policymakers decided to wait.
But energy stocks provided the biggest lift, with the sector .SPTTEN up 3.4 percent as the price of oil was lifted by a forecast that prices would climb to $75 a barrel over the next two years.
Crude prices CLc1 settled up $1.62 at $49.43 a barrel. Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) pulled the most weight on the positive side, climbing 4.8 percent to C$37.16, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) rose 3 percent to C$32.17.
“Oil’s up, and the momentum’s definitely being generated by the oil sector,” said Allan Small, a senior investment advisor at HollisWealth.
“The market over the last bunch of weeks now seems to be moving in lock-step with the oil markets.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 110.31 points, or 0.8 percent, at 13,978.66. It was the longest back-to-back winning streak the index has seen since late July into early August. Of the index’s 10 main groups, six sectors rose.
The heavily weighted financial stocks were up moderately, led by Brookfield Asset Management’s (BAMa.TO) 0.8 percent gain to C$43.05. Financials have gained more than 4 percent in the last four sessions.
“The banks have really bounced back and I think people just wanted to see that the banks were not falling due to low oil and so forth,” said Small. “I think the banks have shown that in the last quarter, it was a fantastic quarter right across the board.”
Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO), which had its price target raised by at least one analyst, was another major positive gainer, advancing 2.1 percent to C$80.03. The overall industrials sector .GSPTTIN added 1.5 percent.
First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) fell 3.3 percent to C$8.56, while the overall materials group, home to miners and other resource names, slid 0.6 percent. [MET/L][GOL/]
Additional reporting by Solarina Ho and Alastair Sharp in Toronto; Editing by Frances Kerry