TSX scores biggest gain in two months as financials rally

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index scored its biggest gain in two months on Thursday, led by shares of financial and energy stocks as oil rose and investors reduced bets on a Federal Reserve interest rate hike.

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Weak U.S. retail sales data undermined the argument that the Fed, the U.S. central bank, will raise interest rates next week, helping to send global equity prices higher.

Still, the U.S. economic outlook remains positive.

“Fundamentally I think the U.S. is in good shape and I think that the markets have been telling you this,” said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities.

Some of the most influential movers on the index were financial stocks.

Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO advanced nearly 1 percent to C$57.55 after selling home improvement financing assets with a book value of about C$339 million.

Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO rose 1.6 percent to C$81.36 and Manulife Financial Corp MFC.TO gained 2.3 percent to C$18.17, while the overall financials group was up 1.3 percent.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 137.21 points at 14,503.67. Its 0.96 percent gain was the largest since July 4.

The index had lost around 3 percent of its value since last Thursday’s close as global bond yields rose.

All 10 of the index’s main groups ended higher on Thursday.

The energy group rose 0.9 percent, helped by higher oil prices.

TransCanada Corp TRP.TO rose 0.8 percent to C$61.49 and Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO advanced 0.6 percent to C$34.45.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled up 33 cents at $43.91 a barrel.

Industrials rose 0.9 percent, with SNC Lavalin SNC.TO advancing 3.2 percent to C$54.50 after CIBC raised the company's rating to "outperformer" and upped its price target on the stock.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, rose 0.7 percent.

Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO advanced 5.3 percent to C$23.98, while Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO was up 2.6 percent at C$23.24 despite a two-week low for gold XAU=.

Data showed Canadian household debt as a share of income hit a record high in the second quarter in a report likely to reinforce concerns of overborrowing by consumers.

Sales of existing Canadian homes fell 3.1 percent in August from July, the fourth straight monthly decline and the largest drop in nearly two years.

Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and James Dalgleish