(Adds portfolio manager quotes, details on background and telecom stocks and updates prices)
* TSX closes up 29.34 points, or 0.19 percent, at 15,335.23
* Index climbs for sixth straight session
* Just four of the index’s 10 main groups end higher
By Fergal Smith
TORONTO, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Canada’s benchmark stock index climbed for the sixth straight session on Thursday, led by energy and telecom shares, but stopped short of the 19-month high it posted last week before the Federal Reserve raised U.S. interest rates.
The market has been consolidating its gains since the Nov. 8 U.S. election, said Davis Rea Chief Strategist John Johnston, who believes that technical indicators, the trend in corporate earnings and the economic outlook point to higher stock prices in the early part of 2017.
“Improving economic growth and relatively low inflation is a good mix for most asset classes.”
Domestic data showed that the annual inflation rate cooled in November and October retail sales rose more than expected, boding well for economic growth at the start of the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, U.S. data showed that the economy grew at a 3.5 percent clip in the third quarter, its strongest in two years.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 29.34 points, or 0.19 percent, at 15,335.23.
It has rallied nearly 18 percent this year and 4.6 percent since the U.S. election, helped by the prospect of U.S. economic stimulus and a recent OPEC agreement to cut oil production.
Last week it touched its highest since May 2015 at 15,414.57.
The most influential gainers on the index included Suncor Energy Inc, up 1.2 percent to C$44.49, and pipeline company Enbridge Inc, which advanced 2 percent to C$57.75.
The energy group climbed 0.2 percent overall as oil prices rose.
U.S. crude oil settled up 46 cents at $52.95 a barrel, supported by strong U.S. economic data and optimism that crude producers would abide by their agreement to limit output.
Canada’s telecom regulator ruled late on Wednesday that broadband internet access will be considered a basic service, setting up a fund that providers will pay into to improve access to high-speed services in rural and isolated areas of the country.
Telecoms climbed 0.9 percent, with Rogers Communications Inc up 1.1 percent to C$52.06 and BCE Inc adding 1.2 percent to C$58.14.
Just four of the index’s 10 main industry groups ended higher.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, was nearly unchanged.
Gold futures fell 0.2 percent to $1,128.5 an ounce.
Financials were also little changed as gains for some heavyweight bank stocks were offset by declines for some major insurers, with Manulife Financial Corp down 0.7 percent at C$24.44. (Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and James Dalgleish)