TSX just short of all-time high as financials, energy stocks gain

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged toward an all-time high on Wednesday, boosted by financial stocks as bond yields rose and by energy stocks in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to advance two major pipeline projects.

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

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 33.15 points, or 0.21 percent, at 15,643.84, just off its September 2014 record peak of 15,685.13.

The move towards that record came as the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 20,000 for the first time, helped by solid earnings and as optimism over Trump’s pro-growth initiatives revitalized a post-election rally. [.N]

“Canada will benefit from a better U.S. economic environment,” said Kevin Headland, senior investment strategist at Manulife Investments. “The pro-pipeline stance is just another benefit that I think Trump and the Republican Party is going to provide to Canada.”

TransCanada Corp rose 0.4 percent to C$64.47, adding to an all-time high the stock hit on Tuesday, when Trump’s executive order put its Keystone XL pipeline back into play.

The pipeline would help Canadian oil sands producers tap the world’s largest refining market for their oil and boost the price they get for their crude.

The broader energy group also rose 0.4 percent, even as oil prices slipped on signs that growing U.S. shale production would reduce the impact of cuts by OPEC and other major exporters. [O/R]

The most influential gainers on the index included some of its biggest banks and insurers, with Royal Bank of Canada up 0.7 percent to C$93.99 and Manulife Financial Corp advancing 1.5 percent to C$25.38.

“Most insurance companies in Canada typically trade off the U.S. Treasury curve,” Headland said. “We saw the 10-year move up higher, that helps the Canadian insurers.”

Benchmark U.S. yields hit a four-week high as Wall Street’s key indexes posted record highs amid investor optimism about the economy and the policies of the administration of President Donald Trump.

The financials group, which accounts for more than a third of the index’s weight, gained 0.7 percent.

Gold miners held the Canadian index back, as investors shunned bullion, typically seen as a safe haven.

Shares in Canadian National Railway Co fell 2.5 percent to C$91.38, as the country’s largest railway company reported earnings that beat expectations but pointed to moderate volume growth in 2017.

Six of the TSX’s 10 main groups rose, with two advancers for every decliner and 22 stocks posting new 52-week highs.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Alistair Bell and James Dalgleish