TORONTO – Higher commodity prices propelled the Toronto stock market to a solid gain Friday as both the energy and metals sectors finished in positive territory.
The S&P/TSX composite index rose 68.48 points to close at 14,942.41, marking a climb of 1.4 per cent over the week.
The TSX mining and metals sector rose 6.1 per cent, with the May copper contract ahead 10.1 cents to US$2.76 a pound, while April gold bullion rose $15.60 to US$1,184.60 an ounce.
The TSX energy sector was up one per cent Friday as the April contract, which expired at the close of the session, rose $1.76 to US$45.72 a barrel. The May contract gained $1.04 to $46.57 a barrel.
Colin Cieszynski, senior markets analyst at CMC Markets Canada, said commodities have been boosted partly by comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday over interest rates.
The Fed signalled it wants to see the job market improve and inflation to come off its lows before it begins raising rates. The outlook on interest rates weighed on the value of the U.S. dollar against international currencies, which helped prop up commodities.
“It’s encouraging that we’re seeing TSX materials and energy (stocks higher) because they’re two sectors that have been pretty beaten down,” Cieszynski said.
“With the dollar coming back it has taken a bit of pressure off.”
The loonie moved ahead 0.92 of a U.S. cent to 79.50 cents after Canada’s latest inflation figures showed lower gas prices offset higher prices for nearly everything else.
Annual inflation held steady at 1.0 per cent in February, in line with analyst estimates. Statistics Canada said lower gasoline prices were a major factor and the inflation rate would have been 2.2 per cent if they had been excluded.
Also, Statistics Canada said retail sales were $41.4 billion in January, a one-month decline of 1.7 per cent. It said sales were lower in seven of its 11 subsectors but gasoline stations represented a majority of the decline between December and January. Excluding gasoline, retail sales fell 0.8 per cent in January.
The TSX telecom sector took a hit, down 0.5 per cent, after regulators unveiled major changes in how consumers will get their television services.
The CRTC revealed Thursday that it will order cable and satellite companies to offer a so-called “skinny basic” package of channels for no more than $25 a month. Consumers will also get more freedom to “pick and pay” the channels that they want.
Information technology stocks dropped 0.9 per cent overall, with BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB) shares falling 3.3 per cent to $11.95 ahead of its fourth-quarter financial results next Friday.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials soared 168.69 points to 18,127.72 and the S&P 500 index gained 18.79 points to 2,108.06. The Nasdaq rose 34.04 points to 5,026.42.
In corporate news, AutoCanada Inc. (TSX:ACQ) stock was down 21 per cent Friday after it provided a sobering outlook for 2015, which the national auto dealership company says will be difficult because of the troubles in Canada’s energy industry.
The Edmonton-based company’s stock traded for as little as $32.78 — approaching a 52 week low — before recovering some lost ground. Shares closed at $33.75, down $8.99 from Thursday.
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