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May 18, 2017

TSX closes higher as financials recoup some losses

BNN's closing bell update: May 17, 2017

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Canada's main stock index eked out a slight gain on Thursday, as financial stocks recovered somewhat after a two-day selloff, while gold miners weighed as bullion turned lower.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index touched a five-month low in morning trade but ended the day up 3.52 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 15,277.20. Decliners outnumbers advancers by a 1.4-to-1 ratio overall.

The index had slumped on Wednesday as global markets worried that U.S. President Donald Trump's pro-business economic agenda could be slowed by political scandals.

"People are perhaps a little less risk-averse today," said Manash Goswami, a portfolio manager at First Asset Investment Management. "The selloff might have been overdone and people are reevaluating and looking to come back in a little bit."

Shares of the country's largest bank, Royal Bank of Canada, rose 1.1 per cent to $92.42 and its biggest life insurer, Manulife Financial Corp, jumped 1.7 per cent to $23.10.

While eight of the index's 10 main sectors rose, many of the gains were modest and the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 1.7 per cent.

Gold prices edged lower after notching their biggest one-day spike since Britain voted to leave the European Union on Wednesday.

Barrick Gold lost 3.4 per cent to $22.46 and Goldcorp Inc fell 2.8 per cent to $18.87.

The Trump uncertainty continued to weigh on copper prices, which hit a one-week low, as expectations of U.S. infrastructure spending plans were undermined.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd declined 2.6 per cent to $11.56 and HudBay Minerals Inc lost 1.7 per cent to $7.12.

Shares in Bombardier Inc slipped 0.5 per cent to $2.06 as the U.S. Commerce Department said it was investigating Boeing Co's unfair trade claims against the Canadian planemaker.

The Trump administration also set the clock ticking toward a mid-August start of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico on Thursday as it tries to win better terms for U.S. workers and manufacturers. 

U.S. MARKETS

Wall Street rebounded on Thursday from its biggest selloff in more than eight months with help from a move to loosen internet regulations and strong economic data.

Investors were still watching Washington closely after reports the U.S. President tried to interfere with an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's ties with Russia.

"We could be just shaking off the jitters here. Yesterday, investors were really worried," said Janna Sampson, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

Investors were likely relieved, she said, by last night's appointment of former FBI chief Robert Mueller to investigate alleged Russian interference in the election and possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

"Whatever the [investigation] result, people feel they might have confidence it's an accurate, unbiased result," she said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.09 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 20,663.02, the S&P 500 gained 8.69 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 2,365.72 and the Nasdaq Composite added 43.89 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 6,055.13.

Investors are monitoring events that could help or hurt Trump's ability to implement proposals such as tax reform and deregulation. At least some of the stock market's post-election rally has been thanks to those proposals.

The Telecommunications Services sector was the S&P's biggest percentage gainer with a 1.2-per-cent rise. U.S. telecom regulators voted to advance a Republican plan to reverse a 2015 "net neutrality" order.

"The fact you saw the party in charge have an impact on something might have led people to think, maybe they can get something done," said Sampson.

Earlier in the day the Philadelphia Federal Reserve said business activity index rose in May after declining for two months. Weekly unemployment data also pointed to strength in the labor market.

Indexes briefly pared gains earlier in the day after a speeding car crashed into pedestrians in New York City's Times Square, killing one and injuring 22 people. The incident did not appear to be an act of terrorism, witnesses, police and news media said.

The S&P 500's technology sector, one of the worst hit on Wednesday, rebounded 0.6 percent.

Cisco fell 7.2 per cent after the networking gear maker forecast current-quarter revenue below analysts' estimates.

Wal-Mart rose 3.2 per cent at US$77.54 after its quarterly earnings beat analysts' expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.03-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.36-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 15 new 52-week highs and 15 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 47 new highs and 97 new lows.

About 8.16 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges compared with the 6.99 billion average for the last 20 trading sessions.