The close: TSX posts record high as energy, marijuana company shares climb


Canada’s main stock index rose on Wednesday to a record high as a recent rally in commodity prices boosted the energy and materials sectors, while healthcare gained more than 6 per cent as shares of marijuana companies jumped.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index unofficially closed up 37.86 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 16,203.13. Five of the index’s 10 main groups ended higher.

Shares of Canadian marijuana companies rose after regulators rejected Aurora Cannabis’ request to shorten the minimum deposit period to 35 days from 105 days for the hostile takeover of CanniMed Therapeutics Inc.

Aurora request, if approved, would have increased the likelihood of its takeover bid by preventing CanniMed’s bid to buy Newstrike Resources Ltd

A decision to shorten the minimum deposit period would have tested Canada’s rules for hostile takeover bids, leaving less time for the target company to react to the acquisition

CanniMed rose 4 per cent to $20.74, while Aurora jumped 11.1 per cent to $8.01.

Canopy Growth Corp. increased 20.1 per cent to $27.77, while Aphria Inc. was up 10.6 per cent to $16.90.

Energy shares climbed 1.6 per cent, with Suncor Energy up 2.5 per cent at $45.82 and Encana Corp. rising 5.5 per cent to $16.62.

Teck Resources Ltd, which exports steelmaking coal and mines metals, including copper, gained 3.1 per cent to $33.33.

The largest decliner on the index was Centerra Gold , which plunged 10.3 per cent to $6.50 after the company said mill processing operations at the Mount Milligan Mine in British Columbia have been temporarily suspended due to lack of sufficient water resources.

The heavyweight financials group fell 0.3 per cent and technology shares declined 0.6 per cent.

The Canadian dollar scored a three-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, supported by last week’s firm domestic data and the recent rally in oil prices.

At 4 p.m. ET, the Canadian dollar was trading at $1.2646 to the greenback, or 79.08 U.S. cents, up 0.3 per cent. It touched its strongest level since at Dec. 5, at C$1.2627.

“A lot of it is just thin holiday markets and a continuation of the move after the strong data that we saw last week,” said David Bradley, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotiabank.

Domestic inflation, wholesale trade and retail sales data before the Christmas break boosted bets of a Bank of Canada interest rate hike in January to a 50-50 call, although expectations for a January hike were tempered by data on Friday showing Canada’s economic growth stalled in October.

U.S. stocks eked out a slight gain on Wednesday, as advances in some major technology stocks offset losses in energy and helped keep major indexes just above the unchanged mark.

The S&P technology index was up 0.2 per cent and managed to snap a five-session losing streak, its longest since April. The sector was buoyed by gains in Facebook, up 0.9 per cent, and Microsoft, up 0.4 per cent.

“Tech is very elevated,” said Stephen Massocca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

“Tech has been down a little bit but if you look at the heart of the beast, the juicy stuff, it hasn’t really gotten hurt.”

Trading volumes remained muted in the holiday-shortened week between Christmas and New Year. Volume on Tuesday was the thinnest of the year for a full session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 28.09 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 24,774.3, the S&P 500 gained 2.12 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 2,682.62 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.09 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6,939.34.

Oil prices dipped after hitting a near two-and-a-half-year high in the previous session, pushing down the S&P energy index by 0.3 percent.

ConocoPhillips, off 1.1 per cent, and Chevron down 0.3 per cent, were the biggest drags on the index.

Housing stocks edged up 0.1 per cent after data showed contracts to buy previously owned homes edged higher in November, the latest signal the housing market may have regained some momentum.

Tesla shares fell 1.8 per cent after brokerage KeyBanc lowered its estimate for Model 3 deliveries to roughly 5,000 units from 15,000 units for the fourth quarter.

Shares of wireless-charging technology developer Energous Corp surged 168.1 per cent to $23.70 after it got certification for its wireless charging transmitter.

Oil prices dipped on Wednesday after hitting a near two-and-a-half year high in the previous session as a rally fueled by supply outages in Libya and the North Sea ran out of momentum.

Brent crude futures dropped to $66.38 a barrel, down 0.9 pe rcent, or 64 cents, at 1933 GMT after breaking through $67 for the first time since May 2015 the previous day.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $59.64 a barrel, down 34 cents from their last settlement. WTI broke through $60 a barrel for the first time since June 2015 in the previous session.

“The market continues to gravitate towards bullish news but today we are seeing a little bit of profit-taking,” said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn.