TSX rises on gains in financial and materials sectors; U.S. down on day

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index rose to within striking distance of an all-time high, while U.S. markets fell on disappointing bank results.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 34.93 points to 16,515.46, after hitting an intraday high of 16,532.67. That's just 35 points off the peak reached last July, before falling on a late-year selloff.

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It's not unreasonable for the market to set a new high at some point this year but the 15 per cent increase in the first few months of the year is unlikely to repeat itself, said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets strategist for Edward Jones.

"Whether or not that comes in the very near-term or as we advance more broadly is yet to be determined but when we look at our outlook for equity markets from here, it's largely going to be driven again over a broader period by the combination of economic growth and earnings growth," he said in an interview.

"And as we look at both of those factors I'd say they still remain more supportive for equity markets than punitive."

First-quarter results provide a "pivotal snapshot" for markets about whether they can maintain momentum into the spring and summer months, he added.

Initial bank results last Friday beat expectations but reports Monday from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup disappointed analysts.

That sent U.S. markets lower.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 27.53 points at 26,384.77. The S&P 500 index was down 1.83 points at 2,905.58, while the Nasdaq composite was down 8.15 points at 7,976.01.

In Canada, the TSX rose on the back of gains from financials and materials, two sectors that together account for almost half of the market.

Materials rose despite lower metals prices. The June gold contract was down US$3.90 at US$1,291.30 an ounce and the May copper contract was down 1.1 cents at US$2.93 a pound.

The mining sector was led by Endeavour Mining Corp., Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. and Barrick Gold Corp. A broad-based gain in the financials sector was led by Power Financial Corp. and Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

Health care dropped 3.7 per cent on broad share losses by cannabis producers, including Cannaroyalty Corp. and Organigram Holdings Inc. that each lost more than 10 per cent. Organigram and Aphria Inc. swung to large losses in their later quarters despite revenue gains since legalization in October.

Oil prices fell a bit after hitting more than five-month highs last week.

The May crude contract was down 49 cents at US$63.40 per barrel and the May natural gas contract was down seven cents at US$2.59 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded at an average of 74.88 cents US compared with an average of 75.02 cents US on Friday.

The loonie fell following reports pointing to lower housing sales and weakened business sentiment due to uncertainty around global trade, the housing sector and the energy industry, according to a new Bank of Canada survey.

"So you look at the domestic growth environment which is probably going to be positive but sluggish this year. You look at what that means for the inflation outlook and ultimately for interest rates and I think that's where we're seeing a bit of pressure on the loonie today."

Companies in this story: (TSX:PWF, TSX:BAM.A, TSX:ABX, TSX:EDV, TSX:AEM, TSX:CRZ, TSXV:OGI, TSX:APHA, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

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