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S&P/TSX composite closes up almost 1.9 per cent, U.S. markets also gain

A sign board in Toronto displays the TSX close on Monday March 16, 2020. Canada's main stock index was up in late-morning trading on broad rally led by materials and technology. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn. FNG

Canada’s main stock index climbed almost 1.9 per cent as commodity prices rose, U.S. markets gained and reported job losses in August suggested Bank of Canada interest rate hikes are working to slow an overheated economy.

The unemployment rate climbed to 5.4 per cent in August, ticking up for the first time in seven months as the Canadian economy shed 40,000 jobs, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

The climb in the unemployment rate, rising from a decades low of 4.9 per cent in July, could contribute to a moderating of rate hikes going forward, said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.

Read more: S&P/TSX composite closes higher along with U.S. markets despite oil price drop

“You’re starting to see the job losses, and that’s as a result of the Bank of Canada increasing rates. And so now the Bank of Canada has to be more balanced in their approach. They’re still going to raise rates, but they may be slower as they raise rates.”

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The potential easing of rate hikes helped push the S&P/TSX composite index up 360.34 points to close at 19,773.34 points in a broad-based rally.

Growth stocks, including in the information technology and health care sectors, led the way in gains, rising 3.3 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively.

Shopify Inc. was up 8.2 per cent a day after it announced a leadership shuffle, while it also likely got a boost from a wave of enthusiasm for growth oriented stocks like technology in the U.S. that saw Microsoft rise 2.3 per cent and Amazon climb 2.6 per cent.

Energy stocks continued a rebound along with fossil fuel prices, with the October crude contract closing up US$3.25 at US$86.79 per barrel and the October natural gas contract was up eight cents at US$8.00 per mmBTU.

Read more: S&P/TSX composite edges slightly higher as price of oil climbs

Overall the S&P/TSX energy index was up 2.65 per cent, including gains of 3.4 per cent from Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and 3.3 per cent from Cenovus Energy Inc.

The base metals index gained 3.7 per cent as the December copper contract was up four cents at US$3.57 a pound, while the December gold contract was up US$8.40 at US$1,728.60 an ounce.

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U.S. markets were also up as investor sentiment around an economic slowdown and rate hikes shifts from the pessimistic outlook of recent weeks, said Chopra.

“You’ve got signs of an economic slowdown in Europe, as well as China. There are signs that higher interest rates and tighter monetary policy is starting to have an effect in the United States,” he said.

“So what you have in the U.S. is somewhat similar to Canada, with the economy slowing investors tend to go back to investing in growth stocks, and that’s where you’ve got companies like Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Tesla being up today.”

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 377.19 points at 32,151.71. The S&P 500 index was up 61.18 points at 4,067.36, while the Nasdaq composite was up 250.18 points at 12,112.31.

The Canadian dollar traded for 76.72 cents US compared with 76.24 cents US on Thursday.

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