TSX climbs within reach of all-time high as industrials rally

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose to an eight-month high on Tuesday, coming within a whisker of the record it set in February, as industrial and financial shares climbed.

FILE PHOTO: The Toronto Stock Exchange sign is seen in Toronto, Ontario, Canada July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

The most influential mover on the TSX was Canadian National Railway, which gained 1.9 percent to C$105.46. After the close, the company reported a 6.9 percent rise in quarterly revenue as it moved higher volumes of metals and minerals.

The overall industrials group advanced 0.9 percent.

The sector was boosted by earnings and guidance from its U.S. peers, said Peggy Bowie, senior trader at Manulife Asset Management.

U.S. heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Inc, reported better-than-expected results and gave an upbeat forecast.

Investors have been rotating out of utilities into sectors that benefit from higher interest rates, such as financials, Bowie said.

Utilities fell 0.3 percent, while financials, which account for 35 percent of the index’s weight, rose 0.6 percent.

Gains for the financial services sector were led by gains for the country’s major banks, which tend to achieve higher net interest margins as bond yields rise.

Canadian bond yields rose in sympathy with yields on U.S. Treasuries and German Bunds as risk appetite firmed ahead of a European Central Bank monetary policy meeting on Thursday.

Canada’s central bank will make its interest rate decision on Wednesday. After back-to-back rate increases, the Bank of Canada can stay on the sidelines for longer than first anticipated, with tighter mortgage rules slowing the housing market and uncertainty about the North American Free Trade Agreement clouding the outlook for the economy.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 49.38 points, or 0.31 percent at 15,905.14. It was the highest close since Feb. 21, which was when the index posted its record closing high of 15,922.37.

Eight of the index’s 10 main groups ended higher.

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

Fertilizer maker, Potash Corp rose 2.6 percent to C$25.03, while copper producer First Quantum Minerals Ltd was up 2.6 percent at C$15.30 as copper prices climbed.

In contrast, gold mining shares lost ground, weighed by lower prices for the metal.

Energy was the other sector to lose ground, dipping 0.3 percent, even as oil rose.

Canada’s Liberal government unveiled a smaller-than-forecast budget deficit as it pressed forward with more stimulus spending on families, but did not project the budget would return to balance in the next five years.

Additional reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish