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Jan 17, 2019

TSX rises, while U.S. markets mixed; loonie lower

BNN Bloomberg's mid-morning market update: Jan. 17, 2019


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TORONTO -- The winning streak of Canada's main stock market continued for a 10th straight day Thursday as early energy losses dissipated and investors saw a hopeful sign ahead of trade talks resuming later this month between the U.S. and China.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 99.96 points to 15,211.22, its highest level in more than six weeks.

"It's certainly a bounce back from the very difficult days of December," says Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.

The Toronto stock index fell by 16.8 per cent from its July peak to its late December low and has since increased by 10.4 per cent.

"Today it's just a continuation of that up trend that we've seen during the month of January."

All sectors but health care and consumer staples gained on the day, led by consumer discretionary, materials, financials and industrials.

The energy sector rose by 0.44 per cent even though MEG Energy shares plunged nearly 36 per cent after Husky Energy Inc. abandoned its hostile takeover bid for the company because of the lack of MEG board and shareholder support.

The March crude contract was down 25 cents at US$52.36 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was up 2.9 cents at US$3.41 per mmBTU.

Crude prices fell as much as 2.5 per cent earlier in the day following reports that U.S. oil production rose to nearly 12 million barrels per day and OPEC output fell by 751,000 barrels in December.

The Canadian dollar traded at an average of 75.22 cents US compared with an average of 75.48 cents US on Wednesday.

The February gold contract was down US$1.50 at US$1,292.30 an ounce and the March copper contract was up 0.65 of a cent at US$2.68 a pound.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 162.94 points at 24,370.10. The S&P 500 index was up 19.86 points at 2,635.96, while the Nasdaq composite was up 49.77 points at 7,084.46.

Chopra said North American markets were helped Thursday afternoon after the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials are considering reducing the new tariffs on Chinese imports as part of trade negotiations between the two countries that restart in Washington in a couple of weeks.

"Certainly that's what's helping the markets right now this idea that (Treasury Secretary) Steve Mnuchin was floating around that they may ease tariffs."

The report, however, added that Mnuchin faced pushback from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer while U.S. prosecutors might bring criminal charges against Chinese technology giant Huawei over possible theft of trade secrets.

The report gained special prominence amidst a lack of economic data that could move the market. Trade tensions with China and Brexit are the main geopolitical events that concern investors.

"I think investors are certainly waiting for more data," said Chopra, pointing to Friday's release of U.S. industrial production numbers.


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