Mining sector helps lift Toronto market, loonie lower against U.S. dollar

A spike in the copper price helped mining companies lift Canada’s main stock index Tuesday, while U.S. markets were mixed and the loonie dipped.

The July copper contract closed up six cents at US$3.20 a pound because of potential labour issues at the world’s largest copper mine, said Craig Jerusalim, portfolio manager at CIBC Global Asset Management.

“The bigger factor pushing up some of the base metal names like Teck and Lundin is largely that the copper price is soaring on the potential supply disruption in Chile at BHP’s Escondida copper mine.”

Taseko Mines jumped 11.19 per cent on the day, Teck Resources Ltd. was up 5.04 per cent, Lundin Mining Corp. up 5.62 per cent, and Sherritt International was up 4.92 per cent.

Because copper is integral to so much economic development, the price is sometimes looked at as an indicator of global economic health, but Jerusalim said this latest spike is caused by supply issues, not increased demand.

“I don’t think it’s as foretelling as in the past, but even before these supply issues, copper over US$3 is suggesting that overall global economy is still quite healthy.”

The climb in base metals, gold and materials helped the S&P/TSX composite index close up 70.01 points at 16,122.25, with healthcare and technology stocks also rising.

The healthcare rise was largely due to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. rising $2.17 or 7.63 per cent to $30.60 on no clear news, while technology stocks exposed to the global economy have been rising all year, said Jerusalim.

The information technology index has climbed more than 20 per cent this year, led by gains at companies like Shopify Inc. and Kinaxis Inc., but it has had a modest effect on the overall TSX as it makes up only about four per cent of the broader index compared with about 24 per cent on the S&P 500, he said.

The gains in the sector are some of the largest since the dot com boom, but are supported by much better financial performance, said Jerusalim.

“It’s really the fundamentals for some of these companies that’s driving the outperformance, which is a bigger positive.”

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 13.71 points at 24,799.98. The S&P 500 index ended up 1.93 points at 2,748.80 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 31.40 points at 7,637.86, a second record high in as many days.

The Canadian dollar averaged 76.96 cent US, down 0.39 of a US cent as more encouraging economic data came out of the U.S. The Labor Department said the number of available jobs in the U.S. rose in April, and for the first time since records began in December 2000, there are more job openings than unemployed Americans.

Continuing trade tensions also weighed on the loonie, said Jerusalim. On Tuesday President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said the president now prefers to negotiate separately with Canada and Mexico over their three-country trade deal, potentially further complicating talks.

The July crude contract closed up 77 cents at US$65.52 per barrel and the July natural gas contract ended down four cents at US$2.89 per mmBTU. The August gold contract was up US$4.90 at US$1,302.20.

Hudson’s Bay Company closed down 16 cents, or 1.51 per cent, at $10.46 after reporting a $400-million loss and announcing it will sell its Gilt online retail business and shutter multiple Lord & Taylor locations.

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