08/13/2013 09:10 EDT | Updated 10/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Toronto stock market closes at two-week high as oil prices rise

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed at its highest level in two weeks on Tuesday as oil prices rose and encouraging data emerged on the U.S. economy.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 47.92 points to 12,642.19.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.38 of a cent to 96.68 cents US.

Energy stocks were ahead 0.2 per cent as the September crude contract gained 72 cents to settle at US$106.83 a barrel.

December gold bullion dropped $13.70 to US$1,320.50 an ounce, while September copper increased one cent to US$3.31 a pound.

The TSX financials sector moved up 0.6 per cent ahead of bank earnings season which kicks off later this month. Royal Bank (TSX:RY) increased $1.14 to $64.05.

Information technology stocks were mostly higher, with the sector rising 0.8 per cent.

BlackBerry (TSX:BB) shares were volatile, closing ahead 1.7 per cent after rising about 10 per cent earlier in the session. The company announced Monday that it was exploring its "strategic options," which could include a possible sale. Its stock ended up 19 cents to $11.32.

Wall Street traders responded positively to the latest data on the U.S. economy. The Commerce Department says retail sales edged up 0.2 per cent in July from June, despite a drop in auto sales.

The Dow was up 31.33 points to 15,451.01, the Nasdaq rose 14.49 points to 3,684.44 and the S&P 500 gained 4.69 points to 1,694.16.

"The U.S. economy is gaining some strength... and continues to do better," said Allan Small, senior adviser at DWM Securities.

"The numbers that are coming out of retail sales are strong enough we're not talking a recession, but not strong enough that we're going like gangbusters."

A rise in U.S. Treasury yields lifted financial companies, as higher interest rates could help them generate better profit margins. Growth-oriented sectors like industrial and technology companies gained on signs that Europe is poised to emerge from recession. That helped offset declines in homebuilders and other stocks that are sensitive to rising borrowing costs.

The yield on the 10-year note climbed close to its highest in two years after industrial production in the eurozone rose in June from the month before and investor confidence rose in Germany, the region's biggest economy. European sales account for about 10 per cent of revenue for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, according to data from S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The yield, which rises when bond prices fall, is also climbing on speculation that the Federal Reserve will cut its stimulus as soon as the economy recovers. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said Tuesday that it was too early to say when the bank would ease back on its stimulus, but hinted that it would likely happen before the end of the year.

In corporate developments, rewards point operator Aimia Inc. (TSX:AIM) is likely to face heightened competition in the coming months after ending a longtime partnership with CIBC (TSX:CM). While the company has secured a new partnership agreement with TD Bank (TSX:TD) for a credit card, competitors see the changes as an opportunity to lure away customers.

A spokesperson for American Express Canada says the company will step up promotions in the coming months. Aimia reported late Monday a second-quarter net loss of $415.2 million or $2.43 per share, compared to a profit of $35 million or 19 cents per share a year ago. The company's stock was ahead 22 cents to $16.15.

Iamgold (TSX:IMG) fell to a second-quarter loss of US$28.4 million from a profit a year earlier as the company took impairment charges related to its investments. The Toronto-based gold miner, which reports in U.S. dollars, reported a loss of eight cents per share, compared to a profit of $52.9 million or 14 cents per share during the same quarter last year. Revenue was down 17 per cent to $301.1 million. Shares rose 12 cents to $5.62.

Onex Corp. (TSX:OCX) reported a second-quarter net loss of US$718 million or $5.38 per share compared to a net loss of $172 million or $1.75 per share during the prior year. Shares gained $1.23 to $53.20.

Torstar Corp. (TSX:TS.B) flagship newspaper the Toronto Star has begun charging a fee for non-subscribers who access its website more than 10 times a month. The plan will cost $9.99 a month plus HST after that, but will be free for most home subscribers. The company's shares were ahead one cent to $5.70.

And Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:APPL) shares gained nearly five per cent after billionaire investor Carl Icahn urged the company to buy back more stock. Icahn said on Twitter that he has a large position in Apple and believes the company's stock is "extremely undervalued." The tech company's shares gained $22.21 to close at $489.57.