TORONTO - Financials and energy stocks gave the Toronto stock market a solid boost Thursday amid volatile crude prices and a well-received earnings report from the oilpatch.
The S&P/TSX composite index jumped 129.27 points to 15,124.92.
The Canadian dollar ran up 0.9 of a cent to 80.49 cents US after tumbling more than a cent Wednesday as a four-day rally in crude prices came to an end on data that showed American inventories at their highest level in 80 years.
U.S. indexes were sharply higher ahead of the release tomorrow of the government's employment report for January.
The Dow Jones industrials shot up 211.86 points to 17,884.88, the Nasdaq rose 48.4 points to 4,765.1 and the S&P 500 index was 21.01 points higher at 2,062.52.
The March crude contract in New York closed up $2.03 to US$50.48 after tumbling $4.60 or almost nine per cent Wednesday. Prices had shot ahead 19 per cent over the previous four sessions on hopes that a string of cutbacks by oil producers had started to bite into a huge supply and demand imbalance that has sent prices plunging by 50 per cent since last summer.
But those hopes took a hit from data showing U.S. inventories grew by 6.3 million barrels last week, about two-and-a-half times the amount that analysts expected.
"Obviously the inventory numbers highlight that we’re not out of the woods yet," said Stephen Lingard, managing director at Franklin Templeton Solutions.
"In some ways, the pain really hasn’t been felt. A more drawn-out, extended lower oil price environment will, I think, cause some more discipline on the high marginal cost producers. We have seen it in the rig counts, we have seen it in announced spending cuts, but it’s still early days."
The steep decline in prices was reflected in the quarterly earnings report from Suncor (TSX:SU), Canada's biggest oil and gas company. Its net earnings shrank to $84 million, down 81 per cent from the $443 million it posted a year earlier.
Earnings ex-items were $383 million or 27 cents a share, eight cents short of estimates. Cash flow from operations fell to $1.49 billion from $2.35 billion. On the plus side, Suncor finished 2014 having spent $300 million less than its $6.8 billion forecast and its stock rose $1.06 to $38.55, helping send the energy sector up two per cent.
March copper was unchanged at US$2.59 a pound and the base metals group also gained 2.5 per cent.
The TSX was also supported by the industrials and tech sectors.
The gold sector was slightly lower as April bullion faded $1.80 to US$1,262.70 an ounce.
Telcos and consumer staples stocks were also under selling pressure.
BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) posted net income of $542 million in the fourth quarter, up nearly 10 per cent from a year before. Adjusted earnings were 72 cents per share, up nearly three per cent from least year and a penny ahead of analyst forecasts.
BCE also says its annual dividend will be rising by 5.3 per cent to $2.60 per share and its shares gained 18 cents to $58.97.
After the close, Twitter reported quarterly adjusted earnings per share of 12 cents, far higher than analyst forecasts of six cents and its stock was up five per cent in after-hours trading.