Canadian stock market ends higher

Toronto, Dec 25 (IANS) Canada’s main stock market in Toronto closed higher as traders headed for a holiday break.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s benchmark Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index added 24.89 points, or 0.19 percent, to 13,309.80 points on Thursday, as gains in banks and consumer companies offset declines by oil producers in a holiday-shortened trading session, Xinhua reported.

TSX’s energy group fell 0.7 percent. Heavyweight oil and gas producer Suncor Energy Inc lost 0.8 percent to 36.89 Canadian dollars ($26.67) and Crescent Point Energy Corp fell 1.9 percent to 16.87 Canadian dollars.

The most influential gainers included major banks Royal Bank of Canada, which rose 0.9 percent to 75.64 Canadian dollars, and Bank of Nova Scotia, which advanced 0.8 percent to 57.95 Canadian dollars. The overall financials group climbed 0.5 percent.

Pop and bottled water maker Cott Corp., the fourth best-performing stock in the TSX Composite Index this year, added 11 cents to 15.20 Canadian dollars a share.

Gold miners gained, as the price of bullion edged higher on the back of a weaker US dollar. Goldcorp Inc gained 3.1 percent to 16.89 Canadian dollars a share and Barrick Gold Corp rose 2 percent to 10.85 Canadian dollars a share.

Dominion Diamond Corp. leaped 39 cents, or 2.9 percent, to 14. 03 Canadian dollars per share, after two directors resigned for personal reasons, the company said.

The diamond mining company jumped 17 percent this week after coming under pressure for change from a group of investors led by Toronto-based hedge fund K2 & Associates Investment Management.

Thursday’s market saw an advance for a fifth consecutive day, which put TSX up more than 2 percent since Monday, and capped the second-straight week where the index gained ground, something that hasn’t happened since April.

Trading was soft heading into the Christmas break, as the world’ s stock, currency and bond markets are all largely closed Friday and through the weekend for Christmas.

“Falling volatility and trade volume mark the days prior to the Christmas holidays,” said Bernard Aw of IG, who noted this time of year traders often wind down their positions before the end of the year.

However, the TSX’s performance was stronger than American markets, with the Dow and S&P 500 both closing in the negative.

The Toronto market was buoyed by oil prices, which continued their march higher after coming within pennies of their recessionary low last week.

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