Toronto stock index advances on energy as the price of oil nears

TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index advanced Wednesday, led primarily by gains from oil and gas producers as the price of crude edged back closer to the US$50 mark.The S&P/TSX composite index was up by 63.53 points to 15,265.63, with the energy sector among key advancers.The September crude oil contract rose 43 cents to settle at US$49.59 per barrel, after breaching US$50 on Monday for the first time in about two months.“We’re seeing short-term optimism in terms of oil prices, which is refreshing to see given that the overlying theme this year has been weakness in oil prices after the rebound we saw in 2016,” said Kash Pashootan, a senior vice-president and portfolio manager at First Avenue Advisory, a Raymond James company in Toronto.Still, Pashootan said he doesn’t feel the supply and demand fundamentals have changed enough where prices would rise to US$55 to US$60, at least not any time soon.“We don’t feel that from a foundational point of view that the story with oil has changed.”South of the border, stocks were mostly lower. But a big gain for Apple helped send the Dow Jones industrial average above 22,000 for the first time, advancing 52.32 points to settle at 22,016.24. The tech giant’s stock climbed US$7.17, or 4.8 per cent, to US$157.22.The S&P 500 index nudged up 1.22 points to 2,477.57 while the Nasdaq composite index declined 0.29 of a point to 6,362.65.In currency markets, the Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 79.62 cents US, down 0.29 of a cent.Elsewhere in commodities, the September natural gas contract gave back a cent at US$2.81 per mmBTU, December gold was down one dollar to US$1,278.40 an ounce and September copper was unchanged at US$2.88 a pound.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.

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