BUSINESS

TSX jumps on crude prices, US markets find traction from earnings reports

04/15/2015 07:54 EDT | Updated 06/25/2015 02:59 EDT
TORONTO - A spike in oil prices helped send the Toronto stock market to a higher finish on Wednesday with most other key sectors also finding strength.

The S&P/TSX composite rose 61.59 points to close at 15,450.87, coming off a triple-digit gain earlier in the session as rising commodities prices eclipsed negative news on Canadian manufacturing and the short-term outlook for the economy.

The loonie rose 1.24 cents U.S. to 81.30 cents after the Bank of Canada held its trend-setting overnight rate at 0.75 per cent while also reducing its growth forecast for the year.

The central bank also said there likely would be no growth at all in the first quarter as the economy was hammered by an unusually harsh winter and the fallout from oil prices, which dropped to half of the levels reached last June.

Crude futures prices settled at their highest level of the year after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that American inventories of crude were up for a 14th consecutive week in the period ended April 10. The increase of 1.3 million barrels was much less than the 3.5 million barrels analysts had expected.

Lower supply levels helped May crude settle nearly six per cent higher at US$56.39 a barrel, an increase of $3.10, while the TSX energy sector gained 2.6 per cent.

Oil prices have been a focal point for both economists and traders, who are monitoring its direction for its impact on the financial results of global companies. On Wednesday, the International Energy Agency projected in its monthly oil market report that "the outlook is only getting murkier" for the key commodity.

"It's such a streaky commodity," said Gareth Watson, vice-president, investment management and research, Richardson GMP Ltd.

"One second you think the world absolutely hates it, and the next you think the world absolutely loves it. I'm just not 100 per cent convinced this is the beginning of a march up to higher (oil prices) on a more permanent basis."

Other key commodities also gained traction, with the June gold contract rising $8.70 to $1,201.30 an ounce and the May copper contract gaining 1.3 cents to US$2.71 a pound.

TSX financials stocks lifted 0.9 per cent as stocks ascended for all of the major Canadian banks, while metals and mining stocks lifted 1.5 per cent.

In New York, some of the companies reporting financial results impressed traders who have had restrained expectations for the first quarter.

Computer chip maker Intel beat analyst targets with its results late Tuesday, while Delta Air Lines more than tripled its quarterly profits as passengers flew more and fuel prices plunged from a year ago.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 75.91 points at 18,112.61, the Nasdaq rose 33.73 points to 5,011.02 and the S&P 500 advanced 10.79 points to 2,106.63.

In other economic news, Statistics Canada reported that manufacturing sales fell in February for the fourth time in five months, down 1.7 per cent to $50 billion, mostly due to a drop in motor vehicle sales and reduced production of aerospace products and parts.

Sales fell in 10 of 21 industries representing just over half of all Canadian manufacturing.

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