12/07/2017 12:03 EST | Updated 12/07/2017 12:40 EST

Broad-based rally helps boost stocks in Toronto, loonie moves lower

TORONTO — A broad-based rally helped Canada's main stock index push higher on Thursday as U.S. stock markets also gained ground amid positive employment data.

The S&P/TSX composite index advanced 106.90 points to 16,015.68, as oil and energy stocks clawed back some of their sharp losses from Wednesday.

The January crude contract climbed 73 cents to US$56.69 per barrel.

South of the border, more evidence that the U.S. job market is strengthening arrived after a government report showed that fewer workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. The numbers are considered a proxy for layoffs, and they offer an encouraging sign that the U.S. labour market continues to improve.

The better-than-expected numbers played a role in moving major Wall Street indices higher, which also had a trickle-down effect on Canadian markets, said Jillian Bryan, vice-president at TD Wealth Private Investment Advice.

"Obviously if you have a strong employment number out of the U.S. that just bodes well for the general economy in the U.S., and as the U.S. does well we generally do well," she said.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 70.57 points to 24,211.48. The S&P 500 index added 7.71 points to 2,636.98 and the Nasdaq composite index gained 36.46 points to 6,812.84.

On Friday, the U.S. government will also release its closely watched monthly jobs report, and if it shows as much strength as economists expect, the Federal Reserve will likely be on track to raise interest rates at its meeting next week. It would be the third rate increase of the year.

In currency markets, the Canadian dollar continued trading lower on Thursday following Wednesday's Bank of Canada decision to keep interest rates steady at one per cent.

The loonie closed at an average trading value of 77.86 cents US, down 0.53 of a U.S. cent.

Elsewhere in commodities, the January natural gas contract was down 16 cents to US$2.76 per mmBTU. The February gold contract fell US$13.00 to US$1,253.10 an ounce and the March copper contract was unchanged at US$2.96 a pound.


Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.