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At midday: TSX rises as energy stocks gain with oil prices

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 201

Mark Blin/Reute

Canada's main stock index rose on Thursday, helped by gains among energy stocks as oil prices picked up and as BlackBerry Ltd moved higher after announcing an automotive partnership with chipmaker Qualcomm.

At 11:20 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 90.78 points, or 0.56 per cent, at 15,998.04.

The energy group climbed 0.6 percent, with Suncor Energy Inc up 1.3 per cent at $44.12 and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd adding 0.7 per cent to $44.58.

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Oil prices gained after a sharp sell-off on Wednesday following an unexpectedly large rise in U.S. stocks of refined products.

BlackBerry added 1.7 per cent to $13.28 after announcing it would expand its partnership with chipmaker Qualcomm into automotive systems on a non-exclusive basis.

Dollarama Inc rose 4.3 per cent to $156.11 after announcing a share buyback plan and as a string of analysts adjusted their price targets on the stock.

Nine of the index's 10 main sectors were in positive territory, with utilities the sole declining group.

The financials group gained 0.4 per cent, industrials rose 0.7 per cent, and the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.6 per cent.

Westjet Airlines Ltd was up 3.9 per cent at $27.43 after RBC raised its price target on the stock after its Wednesday announcement of a joint venture with Delta Air Lines.

Emera Inc fell 2.9 per cent to $47.89 after the energy company announced a bought deal to raise at least $700-million.

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Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc rose 5.4 per cent to $22.69, recovering most of a fall on Wednesday after announcing the pricing on its latest debt issuance.

The Canadian dollar was trading at 77.85 U.S. cents, down 1.3 per cent.

The three major U.S. indexes rose in late morning trading on Thursday with stocks of technology companies leading the pack, followed by industrials.

Gains in Apple and Alphabet lifted tech stocks and were among the biggest boosts to the S&P and the Nasdaq.

Chipmaker Broadcom's upbeat profit and dividend raise received investor support with shares rising.

General Electric rose 1.6 per cent after the industrial conglomerate said it was cutting 12,000 jobs at its global power business.

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Lululemon Athletica gained 8 per cent after the Canadian yoga and leisure apparel maker reported a higher-than-expected profit and gave an upbeat holiday season forecast.

"It looks as though technology once again is leading the way here, but basically the broader market is still struggling," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

Strong earnings and solid economic growth have pushed stocks to record levels this year and Republican efforts to cut corporate taxes have added to the momentum.

The Senate Republicans on Wednesday agreed to talks with the House of Representatives on the tax bill amid early signs that lawmakers could agree on a final bill ahead of a self-imposed Dec. 22 deadline.

However, a gridlock between President Donald Trump and Congress over the passage of spending legislation before Friday has raised fears of partial shut down of the federal government.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 47.78 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 24,188.69 and the S&P 500 was up 6.3 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 2,635.57.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 45.12 points, or 0.67 per cent, at 6,821.50.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with industrial and technology sectors leading the gainers.

Consumer staples index's 0.55-per-cent fall led the decliners. Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola fell about 1 percent, dragging the sector down.

Data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, with claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to 236,000 for the week ended Dec. 2. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 240,000.

The report comes ahead of a more comprehensive government payrolls data on Friday, where investors are looking to gauge the strength of the labor market.

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