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S&P/TSX composite reaches to within five per cent of record high; U.S. markets fall

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index moved to within about five percentage points of its record high Friday on a broad-based rally involving technologies along with cyclical sectors like materials and energy.
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TORONTO — Canada's main stock index moved to within about five percentage points of its record high Friday on a broad-based rally involving technologies along with cyclical sectors like materials and energy. 

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 109.29 points to 17.019.10. The intraday high of 17,048.87 was less than 1,000 points from the peak reached in February.

Overall, the Toronto market closed up 2.1 per cent over the past five days to reach its third-straight positive week. It has climbed 9.3 per cent so far in November.

"It's nice to see the Canadian market firing on more than one cylinder," said Les Stelmach, portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton Canada.

Technology and defensive sectors such as utilities rallied while cyclical stocks in energy and industrials did well, excluding the railways.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 219.75 points at 29,263.48. The S&P 500 index was down 24.33 points at 3,557.54, while the Nasdaq composite was down 49.74 points at 11,854.97. 

The U.S. markets moved lower as shares of Boeing Inc. fell 3.1 per cent and technology leaders such as Apple, Facebook and Alphabet were down more than one per cent.

The day started with investors concerned about an apparent difference of opinion between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell over the withdrawal of an emergency lending facility.

It was partially offset by some re-engagement of stimulus talks that helped gold, which rose as a hedge against inflation and also as a safety bet.

Investors continued to be concerned about rising COVID-19 infection rates heading into the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and growing lockdowns.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they applied Friday to the the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for their vaccine they say is 95 per cent effective in trials.

It came after the World Health Organization rejected antiviral drug remdesivir as a COVID treatment, saying there's no evidence that it improves survival.

"In the absence of maybe vaccine news, that might be a negative for the markets, but I think it's overwhelmed by the vaccine because remdesivir by itself … is a really expensive treatment.," Stelmach said in an interview.

Technology led the TSX, where nine of 11 major sectors increased. It gained almost three per cent as shares of BlackBerry Ltd. rose 7.7 per cent.

Materials were second-best, gaining ground on higher metals prices, which helped First Quantum Minerals Ltd. to increase 4.5 per cent.

The December gold contract was up US$10.90 at US$1,872.40 an ounce and the December copper contract was up 8.9 cents at US$3.29 a pound.

The Canadian dollar traded for 76.51 cents US compared with 76.44 cents US on Thursday. 

Energy was also elevated on the back of crude prices that rose for a third consecutive week to reach the highest close since Sept. 1.

The January crude contract was up 52 cents at US$42.42 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up five cents at US$2.77 per mmBTU.

Shares of Husky Energy Inc., Whitecap Resources Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc. increased 2.5, 2.1 and two per cent, respectively.

Rising oil prices are a good sign for Canada, Stelmach said.

"Canada has just been a laggard market relative to the U.S., so you're gonna get days here where maybe we're also just playing a little bit of catch up."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2020. 

Companies in this story: (TSX:FM, TSX:BB, TSX:HSE, TSX:WCP, TSX:CVE, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) 

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press




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