Skip to main content

Canada’s main stock index rose on Friday after tepid jobs data raised the odds that Bank of Canada will hold interest rates steady.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX rose 23.82 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 15,983.32, its seventh straight gain.

The index rose 1.6 per cent for the week, its best weekly performance since mid-February.

The materials sector was the biggest boost as gold was set for its first weekly gain in four weeks.

Pushing the financial group higher were shares of Toronto-Dominion Bank, up 0.5 per cent, and Sun Life Financial, which gained 2.1 per cent.

Though energy stocks lost 0.1 per cent, Enbridge Inc. rose 2.1 per cent, while Suncor Energy Inc. increased 1.1 per cent.

Economic data showed the Canadian economy unexpectedly shed jobs in April, bolstering bets that the Bank of Canada will hold interest rates steady when its policymakers meet later this month.

Leading the index were Great Canadian Gaming Corp, up 7.5 per cent, MEG Energy Corp, up 5.6 per cent, and SSR Mining Inc , higher by 4.3 per cent.

Lagging shares were CES Energy Solutions Corp, down 9.7 per cent, Torex Gold Resources Inc, down 8.3 per cent, and Stars Group Inc , lower by 6.3 per cent.

Seven of Canada’s 10 main index sectors finished lower.

The U.S. dollar eased on Friday while an index of world stock markets gained and was poised for its best week since early March, as moderate inflation eased worries about a faster pace of U.S. interest rate hikes and boosted risk appetite.

The dollar fell for a third day against a basket of major currencies as traders booked recent gains, which were tied to widening interest rate gaps in favour of the United States and signs of slower growth elsewhere in the world.

Gold was set for its first weekly gain in four weeks after soft U.S. inflation data on Thursday suggested the Federal Reserve would show caution as it boosts interest rates.

Oil prices slipped but remained near 3-1/2 year highs as the prospect of new U.S. sanctions against Iran tightened the outlook for Middle East supply at a time when global crude production is just keeping pace with rising demand.

U.S. stocks gained as healthcare stocks led a rally even after President Donald Trump blasted drugmakers and healthcare “middlemen” for making prescription drugs unaffordable for Americans. Mr. Trump also said the pharmaceutical industry makes an “absolute fortune” at the expense of taxpayers.

The S&P healthcare index rose 1.5 per cent as it became clear the U.S. administration had avoided taking aggressive and direct measures to cut drug prices.

The market is responding to exceptionally strong earnings growth and benign inflation, said Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management in New York.

The Cboe Volatility Index, a barometer of expected near-term volatility for the S&P 500 that often is referred to as Wall Street’s fear gauge, has fallen to levels last seen before the February market correction, Grohowski said.

“Not only has the market returned handsomely, but risk has also taken a breather,” he said.

MSCI’s gauge of stock markets across the globe gained 0.34 per cent.

European shares edged higher, with the pan-regional STOXX 600 index of companies in 17 countries, closed up 0.11 per cent for a seventh straight week of gains and the largest string of weekly advances since March 2015.

Shares in Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) rose 1.3 per cent, having jumped as much as 9.4 per cent, after U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake Management Co agreed to buy ZPG , the owner of British property websites Zoopla and PrimeLocation, for $3 billion.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 90.58 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 24,830.11, the S&P 500 gained 4.62 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 2,727.69 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.09 points, or 0.03 pe rcent, to 7,402.88.

U.S. plans to reintroduce sanctions against Iran, which pumps about 4 percent of the world’s oil, has buoyed crude prices.

The dollar index fell 0.12 per cent, with the euro up 0.24 per cent to $1.1941. The Japanese yen firmed 0.1 percent versus the greenback at 109.27 per dollar.

Central bankers around the world appear to have become more cautious as concerns over inflation and international trade cloud the global economy.

On Thursday, the Bank of England held rates against recent expectations and New Zealand’s Reserve Bank said the official cash rate will remain at 1.75 per cent for “some time to come.”

This leaves the Fed as the only major central bank committed to rate hikes, but Thursday’s moderate inflation reading cast doubt over the pace of these hikes.

Benchmark 10-year notes rose 1/32 in price to yield 2.9677 per cent.

U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled down $1.60 at $1,320.70 per ounce.

Crude prices fell in a see-saw session on Friday, retreating after early gains as it looked likely that U.S. allies would push to maintain a deal with Iran, which could keep that country’s crude exports on global markets.

In another sign global supplies could rise further, data in the afternoon showed U.S. crude producers added 10 rigs in the latest week.

Crude prices remained just below multi-year highs, with Brent on track for a weekly 2.8-per-cent gain and U.S. crude a 1.2-per-cent weekly rise.

“It’s the same witches brew of bullish stuff: Iran, Venezuela, the lack of alacrity by Saudi Arabia to bring more oil onto the market,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital in New York.

Brent crude settled down 35 cents at $77.12 a barrel, just below the $78-level hit on Thursday, its highest since November 2014. The benchmark contract remained lower in post-settlement trade.

U.S. light crude was down 66 cents at $70.70, off a 3-1/2 year high of $71.89 it hit on Thursday.

The United States plans to reintroduce sanctions against Iran, which pumps about 4 per cent of the world’s oil, after President Donald Trump this week abandoned a 2015 deal that limited Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Many analysts expect oil prices to rise as Iran’s exports fall.