TSX hits record high, now within striking distance of 17,000 points as oil rally continues

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s benchmark stock index closed at an all-time high and was flirting with crossing 17,000 points for the first time ever on Friday.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed at 16,858 on Thursday, an all-time closing high, before it added another 80 points when trading resumed on Friday to put it within striking distance of 17,000 points.

While it hasn’t made as many of the large jumps that other stock indexes have made in recent months, Canada’s benchmark stock index has quietly put together a solid rally by stacking small gains on top of each other.

The TSX has gained in eight of the last nine trading sessions, for example, based on strength in the two sectors that tend to drive the TSX’s fortunes: banks and oil companies.

Together, those two sectors make up almost 50 per cent of the index, and both have been steadily marching higher for a while now.  

Strong run for energy

Energy companies in particular have had a strong week after attacks on Saudi oil facilities by a drone believed to have been controlled by Iranian forces prompted fears of war in the Middle East, which would lead to lower oil supplies and drive up the price of Canada’s crude.

The TSX inched up despite data from Statistics Canada released Friday showing relatively weak retail sales that grew by just 0.4 per cent in August, less than expected. Ordinarily, a sign that consumers aren’t opening their wallets would nudge the stock market lower, but underlying strength elsewhere is seemingly enough to offset that sentiment.

“Any disappointment from the retail sales number that may appear in the market today could be offset by improving sentiment toward energy stocks as energy commodity prices continue to climb,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management in Toronto.

The U.S. oil benchmark WTI touched $58 a barrel on Friday, up about half a dollar. That’s down from $62 earlier in the week after news of the Saudi oil attack broke, but still the highest price for American crude since May.

Canadian oilsands crude oil, known as Western Canada Select, gained about a dollar to just over $46 a barrel.

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