TORONTO – The Toronto stock market wrapped the session near its highs of the day on Thursday as commodities prices moved up, while a report on the U.S. labour market came in better than expected.
The S&P/TSX composite index rose 88.21 points to 12,447.68. The TSX Venture Exchange was up 15.63 points to 1,340.85.
The Canadian dollar increased 0.79 of a cent to 101.99 cents US after a top Bank of Canada official suggested that rising interest rates are still a medium-term possibility.
Gold stocks led the way, as December bullion rose $16.70 to US$1,796.50 an ounce, while December copper was ahead 0.2 of a cent at US$3.79 a pound.
November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved up $3.57 to close at US$91.71 a barrel, with the energy sector up half a per cent.
TSX information technology stocks were the lone decliner of the major sectors, falling 0.1 per cent. Still, Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) shares were up 10 cents to $8.07.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials ended 80.75 points higher to 13,575.36. The Nasdaq composite index gained 14.23 points to 3,149.46, while the S&P 500 index gained 10.41 points to 1,461.40.
The U.S. Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims last week rose to a seasonally-adjusted 367,000, which was better than expectations, but still consistent with only modest hires.
The data on claims for unemployment benefits came a day before the U.S. government’s closely watched monthly employment report. Canadian unemployment numbers are also being released Friday.
“Overall little here to change current perceptions of the U.S. labour market, with hiring rather than firing more important at this stage of the cycle,” said Andrew Grantham of CIBC World Markets in a note.
Some further positive signs about the U.S. economy emerged as retailers including Costco and Limited Brands reported September sales that came in ahead of Wall Street’s estimates.
“The expectations that U.S. corporate earnings are actually going to come in OK starting in the next couple of days is reflected in the fact that copper is up,” said Chris King, portfolio manager at Morgan, Meighen and Associates.
“We’re looking at a more supportive earnings market.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its meeting in early September, when the Fed hatched a new open-ended program to spend $40 billion a month on mortgage bonds. The minutes revealed that all but one member of the Fed’s interest-rate committee voted in favour of the bond-buying effort.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported that factory orders were down 5.2 per cent, the biggest drop in more than three years, but it still beat expectations.
The key event this week, however, comes Friday morning when the U.S. Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report. Economists forecast that the unemployment rate inched up to 8.2 per cent in September from 8.1 per cent in August.
In corporate news, shares of Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY) were down 23 cents to $24.99 after the federal NDP said it opposes the proposed takeover of Calgary-based energy company by CNOOC, a state-owned Chinese corporation, in a proposed $15.1-billion deal.
A group of companies headed by SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) has been selected to build the next rapid transit line in Metro Vancouver, which helped to send its shares up 56 cents to $38.25.
Software maker Sandvine (TSX:SVC) reported a net loss of US$900,000 or three cents per share, reversing a year-earlier profit of US$1.7 million or 1.8 cents per share. Revenue dropped 15 per cent. Its shares fell 3.3 per cent, or four cents, to $1.16.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged from the current record low of 0.75 per cent. EBC president Mario Draghi defended the bank’s bond-buying plan at a press conference, saying that it’s now the responsibility of governments to make the next move.