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Canada's main stock index posts triple-digit gain pushing streak to six weeks


TORONTO — Canada's main stock index posted a triple-digit gain Friday after oil hit a three-month high to extend the market's winning streak to six weeks.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 142.26 points to 15,838.24, after hitting an intraday peak of 15,866.60. That's the highest level since Oct.5.

The Toronto market is just 4.4 per cent off the all-time high set last July and up 10.6 per cent so far this year.

Allan Small, senior investment adviser at HollisWealth, foresees the positive momentum continuing as long as geopolitical issues, especially the trade dispute between the U.S. and China, remain positive.

"Yes the year-to-date numbers look really strong in such a short period of time but we're just getting back to where we were trading at the end of the summer and early fall," he said in an interview.

"Let's get back from the highs ... and that's where things start to get a little bit more dicey, you may see the market start to trade sideways for a little bit until we get some sort of clarity on future and I think that's where we kind of stall out."

North American markets increased by as much as 1.7 per cent on continuing optimism about a trade deal with China after U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters he might extend the March 2 deadline for the imposition of tariffs, said Small.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 443.86 points at 25,883.25. The S&P 500 index was up 29.87 points at 2,775.60, while the Nasdaq composite was up 45.46 points at 7,472.41.

"We've heard some positive things come out of the administration over the past few days and I think it is no doubt that that's what's carrying the markets higher," said Small.

In Toronto, the key energy sector gained 3.2 per cent as Frontera Energy Corp. increased eight per cent, followed by Encana Corp., Canadian Natural Resources and Suncor Energy Inc. 

The April crude contract was up $1.19 at US$55.98 per barrel, the highest level since mid-November on a weaker U.S. dollar and support from production curtailments by OPEC.

The March natural gas contract was up 5.2 cents at US$2.62 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded at an average of 75.38 cents US, compared with an average of 75.20 cents US on Thursday.

The April gold contract was up US$8.20 at US$1,322.10 an ounce and the March copper contract was 2.4 cents at US$2.80 a pound.

The Toronto market had widespread gains as industrials and financials rose.

The positive streak was also extended for another week on strong corporate earnings from several firms, including TransCanada Corp. and Manulife Financial Corp. In addition to beating analyst estimates, several raised their dividends and share buybacks.

"All the stuff that's great for investors and adding to this positive feel for the market," he added.

 

Companies, index and currency in this story: (TSX:TRP, TSX:MFC, TSX:FEC, TSX:ECA, TSX:CNQ, TSX:SU, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD)

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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