January 21, 2016 5:17 pm

Loonie punches through 70 cents US as stocks and oil prices rally


TORONTO – Strengthening oil prices sent North American stock markets higher while also helping the commodity-sensitive Canadian dollar rise above the 70-cent U.S. mark Thursday.

At the closing bell for North American stock markets, the loonie was sitting at 70.03 cents U.S. – more than a full cent higher than its Wednesday close. The Canadian dollar hasn’t closed above 70 cents U.S. in more than a week.

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The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index finished the day 192.8 points higher at 12,035.86, rallying on higher prices for crude. The March contract for benchmark crude oil rose $1.13 or almost four per cent to US$29.75 a barrel. The oil subsector was the biggest advancer on the TSX, up 4.39 per cent.

MORE: Loonie edges back over 70 cents US, as oil prices creep toward $30

The increase in oil prices came despite a report showing a big jump in U.S. oil inventories last week, up four million barrels versus the 2.2 million that had been expected.

Strength in energy issues also led gains in New York, where markets also advanced. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 115.0 points to 15,881.73 after losses Wednesday, while the broader S&P 500 added 9.56 points to 1,868.89.

Elsewhere in commodities, the February contract for natural gas was unchanged at US$2.12 per mmBtu, while February gold fell $4.10 to US$1,102.10 an ounce and March copper rose three cents to US$1.99 a pound.

Besides the boost from oil prices, markets were also encouraged by remarks from the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, who said the bank would consider using more stimulus measures for the European economy at its next meeting in March.

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WATCH: Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says it could take up to three years for the Canadian economy to readjust in the wake of collapsed oil prices.

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