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Stock market: S&P/TSX composite index higher

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Canada’s main stock index ticked slightly higher Thursday, driven largely by gains in the technology sector on what was otherwise a quiet trading day due to the Thanksgiving holiday south of the border.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 64.75 points at 21,613.18. U.S. stock markets were closed Thursday for their Thanksgiving holiday.

The tech sector was up 1.14 per cent and was the biggest contributor to Thursday’s gains. Companies with positive movement included cryptocurrency miner Hut 8 Mining Corp., which was up 6.13 per cent, and supply chain management software provider Tecsys Inc., which was up 4.95 per cent.

Shopify Inc. also saw its share price climb by $15.04, or 0.73 per cent, to $2,075.04.

Kevin Headland, senior investment strategist at Manulife Investment Management, said Thursday’s positive performance can’t be linked to any specific event or trigger, but instead is the result of an overall positive “foundation” underlying North American markets right now.

“There’s no real material reason why anything’s going on today, I think it’s just a lot of digesting of earnings,” Headland said. “And volumes are fairly low, of course, which is not surprising given the holiday.”

The energy sector was up 0.33 per cent Thursday, while health care rose 0.78 per cent.

On the down side, base metals fell 0.25 per cent and the utilities sector dropped 0.06 per cent.

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.03 cents US compared with 78.88 cents US on Wednesday.

The January crude contract was down 11 cents at US$78.39 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down eight cents at US$5.11 per mmBTU.

Headland said so far, there hasn’t been much reaction from the markets to news of the co-ordinated release of strategic oil reserves from the U.S. along with other top consuming nations such as China, Japan, India, the U.K. and South Korea.

“At the same time, OPEC is still a little bit hesitant to open the taps,” he said. “So oil seems to be in a very tight trading market and I think that’s what’s going to happen with the Canadian dollar as well.”

On Wednesday, minutes from the November meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve indicated the central bank is still concerned about inflation and remains willing to tighten monetary policy if it continues to rise.

Headland said he will be watching to see if U.S. investors appear skittish about that when they return from the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Yesterday they seemed to shrug off the minutes, but as they have time to digest the minutes, they may have feelings,” he said. “Should we see a bit of softening of that aggressiveness or hawkishness (on the part of the U.S. Federal Reserve), you would see the market react positively.”

The December gold contract was up 50 cents at US$1,784.30 an ounce and the December copper contract was up four cents at US$4.46 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2021.

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