TORONTO - Canada's main stock index inched higher on gains by the key energy sector and the result of strong telecommunications quarterly results.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 49.13 points to 16,279.36.

Telecommunications led the market, gaining 4.2 per cent as Rogers Communications Inc. and Corus Communications Inc. surged 11.6 and 7.6 per cent respectively after posting quarterly results that beat analyst expectations.

Energy climbed 4.1 per cent on higher crude oil prices that pushed shares of Seven Generations Energy Ltd. 9.1 per cent higher.

The December crude contract was up 61 cents at US$40.64 per barrel and the November natural gas contract was down 1.6 cents at nearly US$3.01 per mmBTU.

“The energy sector is recovering today after crude prices moved lower the last few days and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin announced that they may hold back on increasing their output so that helped as well,” said Scott Guitard, senior vice-president and portfolio manager at Fiduciary Trust Canada.

Financials also rose on a steepening yield curve as bond yields in North America moved a little higher, allowing banks and others to make some money from the spread.

Stimulus negotiations were again the focus of interest for investors south of the border.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi again suggested a deal was near, although she said it would take a little longer to write up legislation. And Republican senators are said not to support a large aid package.

Still, Guitard said there's no question that a stimulus bill is coming.

“It's more of a question of the when and in this case, the when matters,” he said in an interview.

Weekly jobless numbers continued to improve but remain “pretty extreme,” said Guitard.

Jobless claims fell to 787,000 last week, the first time they've dipped below 800,000 since March. Continuing claims dropped by 1.02 million to 8.37 million.

“A lot of individuals need this bill to pass to pay their bills over the next few months,” he said.

The senate is a roadblock that could prevent money being dispersed before the upcoming election.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 152.84 points at 28,363.66. The S&P 500 index was up 17.93 points at 3,453.49, while the Nasdaq composite was up 21.31 points at 11,506.01.

The Canadian dollar traded for 76.09 cents US compared with 76.21 cents US on Wednesday.

Materials was one of five sectors on the TSX to decrease. It fell 1.3 per cent on lower gold prices with Kinross Gold Corp. losing 4.1 per cent.

The December gold contract was down US$24.90 at US$1,904.60 an ounce and the December copper contract was down 4.5 cents at US$3.15 a pound.

Gold prices fell on an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar.

Guitard doesn't foresee any impact on markets Friday from the last presidential debate Thursday night between President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden.

“I wouldn't expect that to be a big market mover,” he said. “I think if there was any ammunition that either party had they probably would have released it already given a lot of Americans are already out there voting.”