TORONTO – Resource stocks powered the Toronto stock market to a solid advance Thursday amid data showing business activity declining in China and Europe and another report indicating the U.S. continues to be the major prop for the global economy.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 95.03 points at 15,075.18 as data suggested Europe faces the possibility of sliding back into recession while Chinese manufacturing activity fell to a six-month low in November.
The Canadian dollar was up 0.35 of a cent at 88.45 cents US. The loonie found lift from a report showing wholesale sales increased to $54 billion in September, up 1.8 per cent from August and more than double the 0.8 per cent gain economists forecast.
U.S. indexes were positive as the Philadelphia Fed index, a snapshot of manufacturing activity in the U.S. Northeast, jumped to 40.8 in November from 20.7 in October and far higher than the 18.5 reading that had been expected.
It was also the highest reading of activity since December 1993 as both new orders and shipments rose sharply in November, while labour market indicators also improved.
The Dow Jones industrials was ahead 33.27 points to 17,719, the Nasdaq gained 26.16 points to 4,701.87 and the S&P 500 index was up 4.03 points at 2,052.75.
Worries about Europe grew after financial information company Markit said its purchasing managers’ index for the eurozone, a broad gauge of business activity, fell to a 16-month low of 51.4 points in November from 52.1 in October. Though anything above 50 indicates expansion, the survey suggested a recession could be on its way.
And HSBC’s preliminary purchasing managers’ index for China fell to 50 this month from 50.4 in October, reflecting sluggishness in the world’s second-biggest economy and weakness abroad.
It’s the latest sign that China’s economy continues to struggle after growth in the third quarter slowed to a five-year low of 7.3 per cent.
Most strength on the TSX came from a 2.75 per cent bounce in the energy sector as December crude edged up $1 to US$75.58 a barrel.
The gold sector ran ahead about 2.8 per cent even as December bullion faded $3 to US$1,190.90 an ounce.
Both sectors have registered steep declines this fall amid falling prices for bullion and crude.
“It’s no secret that oil prices have been weak but offsetting that somewhat has been the strength in natural gas prices, which have (moved higher) than $4. And much of that is due to the earlier arrival of cold temperatures in the eastern portion of the continent,” said Stephen Carlin, vice-president, Canadian equities, CIBC Asset Management.
Data out Thursday showed that U.S. stockpiles of natural gas declined by a more than expected 17 billion cubic feet last week. The December contract was up 12 cents to $4.49 per MMbtu.
While there is little optimism that gold prices will head higher any time soon, many observers believe economic fundamentals dictate that oil prices should rise.
The base metals sector ticked 1.2 per cent higher despite December copper falling two cents to US$3.03 a pound.
Telecoms led decliners, down 1.5 per cent.