TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index notched its highest close in almost two weeks on Wednesday as gold miners surged after the U.S. Federal Reserve held interest rates steady, which also boosted shares of dividend-paying utility companies.
Adding to the upward momentum, energy companies gained as oil prices rose sharply after a third surprise weekly drop in U.S. crude stockpiles. [O/R]
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 188.84 points, or 1.30 percent, at 14,710.82, its highest finish since Sept. 8. All of the index’s 10 main groups gained.
The Fed strongly signaled it could still tighten monetary policy by the end of this year, while three dissenters said they favored raising rates this week.
“The market will see this as a continuation of the standard operating procedure thus far, namely that rates are lower for longer, that this is a very cautious Fed,” said John Stephenson, president at Stephenson & Company Capital Management.
“I think the reality is this is a Fed that is more market-dependant than it is data-dependant,” he added.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, jumped 4.6 percent, as the Fed news helped extend gold’s gains after the Bank of Japan earlier adopted a target for long-term interest rates.
Barrick Gold Corp surged 7.9 percent higher to C$24.51 and Goldcorp Inc advanced 6.2 percent to C$22.06.
The energy group rose 1.8 percent, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd up 1.7 percent at C$39.33 and Suncor Energy Inc adding 1 percent to C$34.40.
Industrials rose 1.2 percent, including gains for railroad stocks, while financials advanced 0.6 percent.
Utilities gained 1 percent as the Fed hold pushed investors back toward stocks that offer yield.
“There are no bargains out there. The yield plays in general have been picked over, so it’s very hard to find something that’s attractive for a yield perspective that’s also attractive from a valuation perspective,” Stephenson said.
BlackBerry Ltd shares rose 2.2 percent to C$10.20. The company has agreed to offer anti-hacking software from a startup that last year discovered a major Android bug, it said, as the once-dominant smartphone company seeks to leverage ties to corporate and government clients to boost its software revenue.
The value of Canadian wholesale trade rose in July for the fourth consecutive month, posting a 0.3 percent gain on strength in the motor vehicle and parts subsector, Statistics Canada said.
Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Chris Reese and Meredith Mazzilli