TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose on Thursday, with higher bullion prices boosting gold miners and confidence that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates helping financial stocks, while Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX.TO) surged.
The energy sector fell 1.5 percent, notching outsized losses relative to a slight pullback in crude oil prices. [O/R]
"I think the energy sector will continue to be weak," said John Stephenson, president and CEO at Stephenson & Company Capital Management, citing tough fundamentals that have dogged the commodity.
Valeant rallied 15.3 percent to C$111.79, its biggest one-day gain since early 2011. Still, the stock remains far below its price of C$300 in September as the company faces sharp scrutiny of its business practices.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 73.86 points, or 0.55 percent, at 13,473.83. Seven of its 10 main groups gained.
The materials group rallied 1.2 percent, helped by a firming gold price. Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO rose 4.3 percent to C$10.04, and Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) was up 2.2 percent at C$16.18.
Gold futures GCc1 rose 0.9 percent to $1,080.5 an ounce, and copper prices CMCU3 advanced 0.4 percent to $4,630.35 a tonne. [GOL/][MET/L]
U.S. crude CLc1 prices settled down 0.5 percent at $40.54 a barrel, while Brent LCOc1 added 0.3 percent to $44.25.[O/R]
Stephenson said banks and insurers were benefiting from Fed minutes released on Wednesday that investors took as further evidence the central bank will raise rates in December, and that the broader index should also gain into the decision.
"I'm optimistic that we can grind higher. I don't think we can sail higher, but we can grind higher," he said. "I think the reason we will is because as long as the market still thinks the Fed will raise rates that's a very positive signal for markets."
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (CP.TO) gained 1.2 percent to 197.19, adding to a sharp rally on Wednesday, when it said its proposed $28.4 billion acquisition of U.S. railroad operator Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC.N) would help the combined company to save at least $1.8 billion annually.
Additional reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Diane Craft