TSX ends week higher on positive sentiment from potential virus treatment

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index ended higher for a second-straight week on positive sentiment from a potential COVID-19 treatment and strong domestic jobs numbers.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 145.18 points at 15,713.82 for a gain of 117 points over the week.

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Despite surging infections in parts of the U.S., hopeful news came from Gilean Sciences that its treatment remdesivir helped reduce the risk of mortality in patients.

And Canada's unemployment rate fell in June, following a similar move in the U.S., as 952,900 jobs were added amid some economic reopenings.

"It's just a day filled with a little bit of positive news and for now the glass — at least today, anyway — is half full," said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at HollisWealth.

The market recovery has largely been spurred by the tech sector, which has been helped by people working from home and shopping online. But Friday's boost in sentiment helped the banking and energy, he said.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 369.21 points at 25,075.30. The S&P 500 index was up 32.99 points at 3,185.04, while the Nasdaq composite was up 69.69 points to another record close of 10,617.44 and intraday record high of 10,622.35.

Nine of the 11 major sectors on the TSX were up, led by energy, health care and financials.

Energy gained 3.3 per cent on higher crude oil and natural gas prices.

The August crude contract was up 93 cents at US$40.55 per barrel and the August natural gas contract was up 2.6 cents at nearly US$1.81 per mmBTU.

Crude rose after the International Energy Agency boosted its 2020 demand forecast. That helped Canadian energy companies such as Enerplus Corp. and Vermilion Energy Inc. whose shares were up 8.9 and eight per cent respectively.

Canopy Growth Corp. climbed 8.1 per cent to propel the health care sector while shares of several Canadian banks rose in lockstep with gains in the U.S. banking sector. Laurentian Bank gained three per cent, the Bank of Montreal increased 2.7 per cent and the Bank of Nova Scotia rose 2.6 per cent.

Technology fell with Lightspeed POS Inc. and Blackberry Ltd. down three and 1.8 per cent respectively.

Materials dipped despite gains by forestry companies as gold prices slipped, but remained above US$1,800 an ounce and higher for a fifth-straight week.

While some analysts believe gold is appreciating over fears of inflation and as a result of massive monetary and fiscal stimulus, Small is less hopeful about the precious metal.

"When fear is removed or at least when we do get some sort of vaccine in the fall hopefully, I would not be surprised to see gold, that fear premium come out of it."

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.56 cents US compared with 73.77 cents US on Thursday.

North American stock markets have rallied sharply from March lows but need some sort of catalyst to get to "the next level" and regain all-time highs, said Small.

"I actually think we will show positive numbers on the indices by the end of the year. I'm not giving up on this year. I still think investors can make money."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:ERF, TSX:VET, TSX:BB, TSX:LSPD, TSX:LB, TSX:BMO, TSX:BNS, TSX:WEED, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

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