TSX posts two-week high as commodity prices rise

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s benchmark stock index rose to a two-week high on Friday, led by financial and resource stocks as commodity prices rose, with investors brushing off a more uncertain outlook for NAFTA after the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

A White House statement issued soon after the inauguration said Trump was committed to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, under which Canada sends more than 75 percent of its exports to the United States.

Unless there is a “real lockdown” on trade, acceleration in global growth can help stocks grind higher, said Greg Eckel, senior vice president at Morgan Meighen & Associates.

“It hasn’t just been the U.S. election (result), things have been on the upswing for some time.”

China’s economy grew 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, slightly more than expected, while investors are betting that Trump’s plans to cut taxes, spend on infrastructure and deregulate banks will boost U.S. growth.

Cyclical stocks that tend to benefit from a pickup in growth made gains.

Financials rose nearly 1 percent, industrials advanced 0.7 percent and the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies climbed 1.6 percent.

Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO advanced 1.3 percent to C$67.45, Canadian National Railway Co CNR.TO rose nearly 2 percent to C$93.45 and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc POT.TO jumped 4.8 percent to C$25.23.

Gold futures GCc1 gained 0.7 percent to $1,208.8 an ounce as the U.S. dollar .DXY fell and U.S. Treasury yields US10YT=RR came off their highs after Trump was sworn in. [GOL/]

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled $1.05 higher at $52.42 a barrel on expectations that this weekend's meeting of the world's top oil producers would demonstrate compliance with a global output cut deal. [O/R]

The energy group rose 0.8 percent, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd CNQ.TO climbing 1.4 percent to C$40.96.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 138.07 points, or 0.9 percent, at 15,547.88, its highest close since Jan. 5, when it reached a more than two-year high.

Eight of the index’s 10 main groups ended higher. For the week, the index rose 0.3 percent.

Several lumber companies, the focus of a long-running trade dispute between the United States and Canada, were lower, with Western Forest Products Inc WEF.TO down 2.2 percent at C$1.81.

Canada's annual inflation rate rose less than expected in December, while a small retail sales gain in November was also underwhelming compared with economists' forecasts. ECONCA

Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and James Dalgleish