New York indexes hit record highs amid positive job data, TSX gains on energy

TORONTO – As the TSX pushed higher at the close Thursday, New York indices hit record levels amid positive U.S. unemployment data and strong quarterly results from retailers.

In Toronto, the energy and consumer staples sectors helped lift the S&P/TSX composite index up by 21.02 points to 14,796.06.

South of the border, stock markets climbed to all-time record highs with the Dow Jones industrial average ahead 117.86 points at 18,613.52, the broader S&P 500 composite index up 10.30 points to 2,185.79 and the Nasdaq composite rising 23.82 points to 5,228.40.

“The equity markets in Canada and the U.S. are really being led higher by energy and consumer sectors,” said Craig Jerusalim, a portfolio manager for Canadian equities at CIBC.

Jerusalim pointed to new U.S. Labor Department data showing that applications for new unemployment benefits fell by 1,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 266,000, a sign that layoffs are low and employers are probably adding new jobs.

“The job picture, at least in the United States, is still indicating a strong level of employment,” he said.

“And that’s starting to really come through in wage growth, which has positive implications for that mighty U.S. consumer which we all know is still the engine of the global economy.”

Strong retail earnings reports also helped the U.S. stock markets.

Department chains Macy’s (NYSE: M) and Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS) both reported quarterly results that beat Wall Street’s expectations. Macy’s stock rose $5.81, or 17.09 per cent, to US$39.81, even though it announced it would close 100 stores next year. Shares in Kohl’s jumped $6.15, or 16.17 per cent, to US$44.19.

In other corporate news, Valeant Pharmaceuticals (TSX:VRX) says it is co-operating with authorities following a media report that it is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The Quebec-based drugmaker saw its shares fall by more than 11 per cent to C$31.76.

Meanwhile, crude oil prices rallied, with the September crude contract up $1.78 at US$43.49 per barrel after the International Energy Agency said it expects supply and demand for oil to be more in balance the rest of this year.

The IEA also projected that global oil demand won’t grow as much as it previously expected next year, citing a weaker global economy. The agency now expects demand to rise by 1.2 million barrels a day, slower than the 1.4 million barrels a day seen this year.

“We think where the oil price is now is where it should be from a supply and demand point of view,” said Jerusalim.

Other commodities were mixed with the September natural gas falling a penny to US$2.55 per mmBTU, December gold contracts dropped $1.90 to US$1,350 an ounce and September copper contracts rose two cents to US$2.19 a pound.

The Canadian dollar gained 0.49 of a U.S. cent to 77.04 cents US.

— With files from The Associated Press

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