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Toronto market climbs as crude oil futures reach highest level in two weeks

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index recovered at the end of Monday trading with the energy sector rising as crude oil futures reached their highest closing in two weeks.

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index recovered at the end of Monday trading with the energy sector rising as crude oil futures reached their highest closing in two weeks.

With a vacuum of major data or news, investors had been moved for much of the day by a series of negative events. This included the possible renewal of a trade dispute between the U.S. and China over the COVID-19 pandemic, billionaire investor Warren Buffett's sale of his entire airline stake and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's comments that he wasn't sure international travel would resume this year.

They were all contributing factors to the day's pessimism, said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.

"It's certainly not positive for the markets, those kind of comments," he said in an interview.

"But there's lots of different things that could change when you look at it. There's U.S. states that are starting to reopen, so it'll be interesting to see how that goes over the next days and weeks."

Chopra said the reopenings in various parts of the U.S. will give investors a real feel for what's happening on the ground in regional economies.

He said Buffett's negative comments about the economy and airlines during the weekend annual meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway pushed the airline sector lower.

Buffett had long been critical of investing in airlines but bought 10 per cent stakes in several U.S. carriers after the sector was restructured.

His message was that airline investors must be prepared financially and psychologically for a long wait in case the worst-case scenarios happen.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 124.70 points at 14,745.04 after being down most of the day and reaching an intraday low of 14,518.07.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 26.07 points at 23,749.76. The S&P 500 index was up 12.03 points at 2,842.74, while the Nasdaq composite was up 105.77 points at 8,710.72.

Eight of the 11 major sectors on the TSX were higher led by technology and materials.

Technology followed the pattern set in the U.S. by gaining 3.6 per cent with Shopify Inc. climbing 7.6 per cent and Blackberry Inc. up five per cent.

Materials was up more than two per cent with shares of Centerra Gold Inc. up 6.8 per cent and Canfor Inc. up 6.5 per cent.

The June gold contract was up US$12.40 at US$1,713.30 an ounce and the July copper contract was up half a penny at US$2.31 a pound.

The energy sector was slightly positive with Frontera Energy Corp. up 5.4 per cent, while Secure Energy Services Inc. was down 4.1 per cent.

Crude oil and natural gas prices were higher as economic reopenings will help demand while low prices have prompted producers to cut supply.

The June crude contract was up 61 cents or 3.1 per cent at US$20.39 per barrel. That's the highest level since April 20 and 76 per cent above the low set the next day. However, crude prices are still down 66 per cent from the beginning of the year.

The June natural gas contract was up 10.3 cents at US$1.99 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded for 71.00 cents US compared with an average of 71.09 cents US on Friday.

Real estate, consumer discretionary and industrials were lower on the day. Industrials fell as shares of Chorus Aviation Inc. and Air Canada were down 10 and 8.65 per cent respectively.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2020.


Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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