The Toronto stock market was higher Monday as traders hope to get some clarity on whether the U.S. Federal Reserve thinks economic conditions are improving to a point where it can let up on stimulus measures.
The S&P/TSX composite index was 90.35 points higher to 12,277.71.
The Canadian dollar dipped 0.01 of a cent to 98.33 cents US amid rising crude prices.
U.S. indexes were well into positive territory a day ahead of the start of the Fed’s scheduled two-day interest rate meeting.
The Dow Jones industrials jumped 168.04 points to 15,238.22, the Nasdaq climbed 33.71 points to 3,457.27 and the S&P 500 was ahead 16.52 points to 1,643.25.
Traders were also encouraged by a solid showing from the latest reading of manufacturing in the U.S. Northeast.
The Empire manufacturing index rose more than expected in June, to plus-7.8 from minus-1.4 in the prior month.
However, results of the survey were mixed as the new orders and shipments balances components fell further into negative territory. The employment balance also fell.
“Overall, the rise in sentiment on the headline balance is encouraging,” said CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham.
“But we will need to see firm indicators of orders and shipments improving as well to say that U.S. manufacturing has really turned a corner.”
Markets have been volatile since late May when Fed chairman Ben Bernanke first mentioned that the central bank would consider cutting back on its $85-billion (U.S.) of bond purchases each month if economic data – particularly job growth – improved.
But the stimulus measures, known as quantitative easing, have been popular as they have kept interest and bond yields low and kept a rally going on stock markets practically non-stop since late last year.
The Fed meeting wraps up Wednesday afternoon, followed by a news conference by Bernanke.
Speculation on the Fed tapering its bond purchases resulted in a 1.17 per cent slide last week for the Dow industrials while the TSX gave back 1.5 per cent. At the same time, bond yields have been rising, pushing mortgage rates higher.
In corporate news, Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is selling its Longview forestry assets in the U.S. Pacific Northwest through deals totalling nearly $3.7-billion. Weyerhaeuser Co. will acquire Brookfield’s Longview Timber for $2.65-billion. KapStone Paper and Packaging will acquire Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging for $1.025-billion from the Toronto-based company. Brookfield shares rose 69 cents to $36.64.
All TSX sectors were higher, led by a 1.14 per cent gain in the telecom group. Telecoms and other interest-rate sensitive groups have been punished lately as speculation about cutting back on the QE program has had the effect of pushing U.S. Treasury yields sharply higher.
The telecom sector has also been pressured after Ottawa quashed the idea that big telecoms could take over the spectrum of smaller players. Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis said current rules would stand, leading to Telus Corp. to abandon its plan to buy Mobilicity.
On Monday, BCE Inc. gained 56 cents to $44.72 while Telus advanced 45 cents to $35.17.
The utilities component was ahead 0.8 per cent as TransAlta Corp. gained 12 cents to $13.76.
Financials also provided lift with Bank of Montreal up 56 cents to $60.71.
Commodity prices were mixed Monday and the energy sector gained one per cent as July crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 35 cents to $98.20 a barrel. Cenovus Energy advanced 39 cents to $29.98.
July copper was unchanged at $3.20 a pound and the base metals sector was ahead 0.8 per cent. Teck Resources was ahead 50 cents to $24.43.
August bullion fell $2.40 to $1,385.20 an ounce and the gold sector climbed 0.6 per cent. Kinross Gold Corp. rose 14 cents to C$6.06.
In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225, the regional heavyweight, jumped 2.7 per cent, extending Friday’s 2.4 per cent gain. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.2 per cent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.7 per cent while South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3 per cent. Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed.
European bourses were higher as London’s FTSE 100 gained 0.63 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was up 1.34 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 rose 1.59 per cent.
Elsewhere on the economic front, Statistics Canada says non-resident investors acquired $14.9-billion of Canadian securities in April, adding both debt and equity securities to their holdings. It says foreign investment in Canadian securities was led by debt instruments, mainly reflecting private corporate bonds and the first acquisition of money market instruments in 2013.
Non-residents invested $12.8-billion in Canadian debt securities in April, the largest investment since May 2012