TSX rises as higher oil prices lift energy

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose on Thursday, led by the energy sector as oil rallied and a slew of oil and gas companies reported quarterly earnings, while financials also gained ground as bond yields rose.

A TMX Group sign, the company that runs the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), is seen in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The country's largest oil and gas producer, Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO, was the most influential gainer, jumping 5.7 percent to C$41.61 after it reported better-than-expected third-quarter profit.

Cenovus Energy Inc CVE.TO rose 2.8 percent to C$20.72 even as it reported a steeper loss than expected and cut its 2016 exploration and production budget again.

The overall energy group climbed 1.8 percent as oil rose.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled up 54 cents at $49.72 a barrel as commitments from Gulf OPEC members to cut production assuaged some lingering doubts in the market about cooperation from other producers. [O/R]

Financial sector stocks firmed 0.2 percent, helped by “the yield movement that you are seeing worldwide,” said Ian Scott, equity analyst at Manulife Asset Management.

Strong growth data out of Britain pushed yields on the world’s benchmark bonds higher, as expectations eased for a Bank of England interest rate cut.

Higher long-term yields benefit insurance and bank stocks most, although gains for banks have been restrained by regulatory uncertainty, including proposed sharing of mortgage risk, Scott added.

Canada’s finance department laid out recently possible ways to spread mortgage risk amid fears the nation’s hot housing market could end badly.

Bank of Nova Scotia BNS.TO rose 0.7 percent to C$72.23, while Manulife Financial Corp MFC.TO was up nearly 0.7 percent at C$19.62.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 26.19 points, or 0.18 percent, at 14,833.75. Five of the index's 10 main groups ended higher.

Shares in Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO gained 1.4 percent to C$22.55 after the world's largest producer of bullion reported a bigger quarterly profit reflecting higher gold prices and lower costs.

Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO declined 0.7 percent to C$27.94 after its profit missed expectations.

The stock has risen steadily this year and hit its highest since January 2014 on Tuesday.

Goldcorp Inc G.TO fell 3.7 percent to C$19.75, while the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.9 percent.

Spot gold XAU= edged 0.2 percent higher as the market awaits more signs about the timing of an expected interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve. [GOL/]

Belgium agreed a deal with its regional parliaments on Thursday to approve a landmark EU-Canada free trade agreement.

Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish