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Health-care sector and commodity prices boost TSX, loonie advances


The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index moved ahead Monday, mostly on the back of rising oil and gold prices, but also thanks to gains in the health-care sector where a cannabis company's shares surged more than 20 per cent.

The S&P/TSX composite index advanced 63.63 points to 16,371.81.

Shares of licensed marijuana producer Aphria Inc. (TSX:APH) gained 20.42 per cent or $3.68 to close at $21.70.

Aphria announced before markets opened an agreement to acquire Broken Coast Cannabis Inc. in a deal it valued at $230 million in stock and cash.

However, broader trends in the price of commodities were more influential for the index today, said Craig Fehr, a Canadian markets strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.

"I think the guide for the TSX today is really the little bit of a lift we're seeing in oil price and gold prices," he said.

While the health-care sector led the TSX, shares in the gold sector gained an average of 1.2 per cent and those in the energy sector rose 0.46 per cent.

Shortly after 4 p.m. ET, the February crude contract was up 51 cents to US$64.81 per barrel and the February gold contract was ahead by US$5.60 to US$1,340.50 an ounce.

In commodity markets, the Canadian dollar closed at an average trading value of 80.50 cents US, up 0.53 of a U.S. cent.

It's likely the loonie will dip back below 80 cents US at some point in 2018, Fehr said, as the U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to remain on a steady path of hiking rates, which could outpace the Bank of Canada, putting downward pressure on the loonie.

Canada's central bank is expected to raise interest rates at its next announcement Wednesday, but Fehr believes it will later take to the sidelines at some point in 2018.

Elsewhere in commodities, the March copper contract was up about 4.3 cents to roughly US$3.26 a pound and the February natural gas contract was down 6.9 cents to about US$3.13 per mmBTU.

U.S. markets are closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

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