TSX again reaches record highs in broad-based rally led by technology sector

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TORONTO — Canada's main stock index again set record highs as employment gains on both sides of the border confirmed the continuing economic recovery.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 125.92 points to a record close of 19,542.95 after hitting an intraday peak of 19,582.36.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 188.11 points at 34,084.15. The S&P 500 index was up 43.44 points at 4,159.12, while the Nasdaq composite was up 236.00 points at 13,535.74.

"We've had three tough days in the market and today's the bounce day," said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.

He said markets got a lift after U.S. first-time unemployment benefit claims fell to 444,000, the lowest level since the pandemic began last March.

Canada added more than 350,000 jobs in April despite increasing restrictions from COVID-19, according to ADP.

"It shows you that the economy is adjusting to the shutdowns and we're still getting job growth as employers and companies and investors and individuals look to a time where we get past COVID," Chopra said in an interview.

While job numbers can be volatile each month, the trend suggests unemployment is falling and the number of jobs created is growing.

The TSX was supported Thursday by a broad-based rally with 10 of the 11 major sectors climbing.

The exception was energy, which fell on a decrease in crude oil prices as investors worried that an Iranian nuclear deal would add supply to the global market.

The July crude oil contract was down US$1.41 at US$61.94 per barrel and the July natural gas contract was down 3.7 cents at US$2.99 per mmBTU.

Crescent Point Energy Corp. lost 3.5 per cent.

Despite lower crude prices, the Canadian dollar appreciated, trading for 82.85 cents US compared with 82.64 cents US on Wednesday.

Technology led the Toronto market higher, gaining nearly three per cent as shares of Lightspeed POS Inc. surged 15.1 per cent following strong quarterly results. Shopify Inc. was up 3.2 per cent.

After a few tough days for the tech sector, investors likely thought the selling was overdone, said Chopra.

"Even though you have the economies opening up globally, there'll still be a need for tech," he said. "There'll still be a lot of work-from-home or mobile working so some of the tech names sold off on just reopening concerns and I think investors are just reassessing them."

Industrials rose with shares of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. gaining 2.3 per cent after it told Kansas City Southern that it won't raise its takeover bid and suggested the U.S. railway should no longer favour a rival offer from CN Rail, which CP said won't get regulator approval.

Materials was higher on a slight increase in gold prices as the precious metal is a hedge against inflation.

The June gold contract was up 40 cents US at US$1,881.90 an ounce and the July copper contract was down 0.85 of a cent at nearly US$4.57 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:SHOP, TSX:LSPD, TSX:CP, TSX:CPG, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press