TSX notches near six-week high, led by energy

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s benchmark stock index posted its highest closed in nearly six weeks on Monday, led by gains for its heavyweight energy sector, while financials and industrials also gained ground.

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 .GSPTSE closed up 63.64 points, or 0.42 percent, at 15,236.67, its highest close since Aug. 8.

It rose more than 1 percent last week.

“Things tend to drift up instead of down these days,” said Peggy Bowie, senior trader at Manulife Asset Management. “People are looking for returns and income and they have nowhere to put their money.”

Stocks on Wall Street also rose, helped by gains for financials ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting this week.

The U.S. central bank is set to announce the start of a plan to trim its $4.5-trillion portfolio of assets, much of it amassed in response to the 2007-09 financial collapse, marking another milestone in bringing the crisis-era measures to an end.

The energy group added 0.9 percent, boosted by a 3.4 percent gain for oil and natural gas producer Encana Corp ECA.TO to C$13.14.

U.S. crude oil prices CLc1 edged up 2 cents to settle at $49.91 a barrel, after hovering near multimonth highs. [O/R]

The most influential movers on the index also included Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO, which gained 3.5 percent to C$23.59, and Agrium Inc AGU.TO, which was up 3.6 percent to C$132.65.

Last week, Canada’s competition watchdog said it would not challenge a proposed merger between the two fertilizer companies.

Nine of the index’s 10 main sector groups ended in positive territory, including a 0.8 percent gain for industrials as railroad stocks climbed.

Financials rose 0.3 percent, led by a 2.1 percent advance in the shares of Brookfield Asset Management Inc BAMa.TO to C$49.35.

IGM Financial IGM.TO climbed 4.3 percent to C$42.58 after BMO raised its rating to outperform from market perform and increased its target price.

A BMO cut on CI Financial Corp CIX.TO to market perform from outperform helped push it down 2.4 percent to C$26.78.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners as well as fertilizer companies, added 0.2 percent.

The gold mining portion of the group weighed, with Kinross Gold Corp K.TO falling 5.3 percent to C$5.57 after saying it would spend more than $1 billion to expand two gold mines.

Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO fell 1.2 percent to C$20.81 as prices for bullion hit a 2-1/2-week low ahead of the Fed meeting and as global equities surged.

Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp, editing by G Crosse