TORONTO — Canada's main stock index closed higher in a broad advance Thursday as tensions with Saudi Arabia appeared to ease, while U.S. markets were mixed.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 101.90 points at 16,416.98 as information technology, financials, and materials gained.
The gains came after Saudi Arabia's energy minister assured Canada that the kingdom's diplomatic dispute with Ottawa won't affect oil sales, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday acknowledged some human rights progress in the country while remaining firm in Canada's criticism.
"It looks like tensions are easing somewhat, based on what Trudeau said and then the fact that Saudi Arabia said it would continue to supply Canada with oil," said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp. in Toronto.
"I would say it's neutral to modestly positive, because the markets have certainly bounced a bit."
Tensions between the countries flared after Global Affairs Canada last week criticized the arrest of an activist blogger in the country. The kingdom responded by suspending future trade deals with Canada and reportedly ordered the selloff of Canadian assets among other measures.
The S&P/TSX capped information technology index had the highest gains at 1.6 per cent. The health-care index was up 1.49 per cent and the materials index climbed just under a per cent.
The consumer discretionary index had the sharpest losses at 0.16 per cent as Canadian Tire Corp. dropped almost eight per cent on missed earnings, while auto parts manufacturers Magna International and Linamar Corp. slipped a third of a per cent on Thursday following larger losses the day prior on fears of future tariff impacts.
"The trade issue with the United States and NAFTA renegotiation plays a large part in that," said Chopra.
The TSX composite index hit an intraday high of 16.430.85, while volume on the index clocked in at 178.86 million shares.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 74.52 points at 25,509.23. The S&P 500 index ended down 4.12 points 2,853.58 and the Nasdaq composite index ended up 3.46 points at 7,891.78.
The Canadian dollar averaged 76.69 cents US, up 0.07 of a US cent.
The September crude contract closed down 13 cents at US$66.81 per barrel and the September natural gas contract ended up a penny at US$2.96 per mmBTU.
The December gold contract ended down $1.10 at US$1,219.90 an ounce and the September copper contract closed up two cents at US$2.77 a pound.
Insurers Manulife Financial Corp. and Sun Life Financial Inc. climbed as both beat analyst expectations as they saw growth in Asia. Manulife had adjusted earnings of 70 cents per share, compared to the 65 cents expected by analysts, while Sun Life had earnings of $1.20 per share compared to the $1.15 expected by analysts according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.
Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press