North American stock markets surge higher with TSX boosted by energy sector

TORONTO — The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index surged to its highest level since early March on the strength of the energy sector, while the S&P 500 fell just shy of an all-time high.

The S&P/TSX composite index moved up 78.27 points to 16,575.28. That's its highest point since closing at 16,779.53 March 4 before the COVID-19 pandemic battered the index.

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"Energy has been leading the way today," said Michael Currie, vice president and investment adviser at TD Wealth.

Shares in the energy sector gained, on average, 1.94 per cent of their value making it the highest performing sector of the day.

The September crude contract rose US$1.06 to US$42.67 per barrel.

That jump came after good news on oil supply, said Currie, as the American Petroleum Institute reported that crude stocks dropped by more than analysts expected. Less supply tends to drive prices up, he said.

Industrials and materials, which includes the big gold companies, also performed well on the Toronto Stock Exchange, said Currie.

Shares in the industrials sector gained, on average, 1.03 per cent of their worth, while the materials sector rose 0.14 per cent the day after the price of gold saw its steepest one day fall in years.

The December gold contract gained US$2.70 to US$1,949.00 an ounce. That came after a "quite significant" drop of US$93.40 Tuesday.

The lift in the precious metal came after bad economic news from the United Kingdom, said Currie.

The Office for National Statistics said the British economy shrank 20.4 per cent in the April to June period. That follows a 2.2 per cent contraction in the first three months of the year, putting the U.K. economy into a recession, which is commonly defined as two quarters of contraction.

Britain's recession is the deepest coronavirus-related slump among the world's leading industrial economies, including comparable European ones such as German, France and Italy.

"It caught a lot of people by surprise just how bad the numbers were," said Currie, adding that helped push gold up as the data sowed fears the economic recovery may not be as strong as some anticipated.

Markets south of the border also made gains.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 289.93 points to 27,976.84 and the Nasdaq composite added 229.42 points to 11,012.24.

The S&P 500 index advanced 46.66 points to 3,380.35, putting it about 0.17 per cent from its all-time closing high of 3,386.15 in February. It reached an intraday high above that, hitting 3,387.89 at some point Tuesday though that's still shy of its intraday high record, also set in February, of 3,393.52.

The Canadian dollar traded for 75.45 cents US compared with 75.24 cents US on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in commodities, the September natural gas contract fell nearly two cents to US$2.15 per mmBTU and the September copper contract advanced nearly two cents to US$2.89 a pound.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

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