TSX ends higher as investors eye path to Fed rate cuts

By Fergal Smith

(Reuters) -Canada's main stock index ended higher on Wednesday, helped by gains for financial and technology shares, as the Federal Reserve signaled it could still cut interest rates in 2024.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 14.01 points, or 0.1%, at 21,728.55, with the index closing well below its session high.

U.S. stocks closed mixed after the Fed left its key interest rate unchanged, as expected, but indicated that its next move will probably be to cut rates.

"The main takeaway from today's meeting is that the Fed expects the elevated inflation readings we saw in Q1 to pass, and implicitly still see a path to cutting rates this year," Ali Jaffery, a senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

The heavily-weighted financials sector rose 0.6% and technology was up 0.5%. The high-dividend paying utilities sector, which could particularly benefit from rate cuts, added 1.5%.

Energy was a drag, falling 1.7%, as the price of oil settled 3.6% lower at $79.00 a barrel on a surprise build in U.S. crude stocks and the prospect of a Middle East ceasefire agreement.

The Toronto market ended April with a decline of 2%, its first monthly decline since October.

Shares of uranium miners Energy Fuels Inc and Cameco Corp climbed 4.8% and 2.8%, respectively, after the U.S. Senate approved a bill to ban Russian uranium imports.

Canadian manufacturing activity slowed in April, extending a lengthy period of contraction for the sector, data showed.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto and Purvi Agarwal in Bengaluru; Editing by Vijay Kishore)