(Adds portfolio manager quotes and details on financial
companies and background, and updates prices)
* TSX closes up 57.45 points, or 0.38 percent, at 15,295.20
* Index posts highest close since May 2015
* Six of the TSX's 10 main groups end higher
By Fergal Smith
TORONTO, Dec 8 Canada's benchmark stock index
added to a 19-month high on Thursday, led by heavyweight
financial shares as bond yields climbed after the European
Central Bank's monetary policy decisions.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
ended up 57.45 points, or 0.38 percent, at 15,295.20,
its highest close since May 2015.
"There's a lot of optimism on potentially reflationary
forces back in the market," said Youssef Zohny, portfolio
manager at StennerZohny Investment Partners of Richardson GMP.
Investors are betting that the policies of U.S.
President-elect Donald Trump, such as infrastructure spending,
tax cuts and deregulation of banks, will stimulate the economy.
The index has rallied more than 32 percent since hitting a
three-year low in January and is up more than 17 percent for the
year. However, the strength of the recent rally may have left it
vulnerable to a correction.
"It seems like markets maybe pulled forward a bit too much
optimism," Zohny said.
Financials gained 1 percent as bond yields rose after the
European Central Bank said it would slow its stimulus program
Higher bond yields reduce the value of insurance companies'
liabilities and increase net interest margins of banks.
Bank of Montreal added to sharp gains since
reporting strong earnings earlier in the week. It rose 2 percent
to C$95.02, while Manulife Financial Corp advanced 2.8
percent to C$24.36.
Oil producer Cenovus Energy Inc said it planned to
increase its 2017 capital budget by about 24 percent and will
resume work on the expansion of its oil sands project in
Still, its shares fell 0.3 percent to C$20.48, while the
overall energy group rose just 0.1 percent despite higher oil
Energy has rallied for four straight weeks, including solid
gains last week as members of the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries agreed to cut output.
U.S. crude oil futures settled up $1.07 at $50.84 a
barrel on growing optimism that non-OPEC producers might also
agree to output cuts.
Crescent Point Energy advanced 1.4 percent to
C$17.85 after saying it would increase its capital budget by 31
percent and boost production by 10 percent in 2017.
Four of the index's 10 main groups ended lower, with the
materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners
and fertilizer companies, dipping 0.2 percent as a stronger U.S.
dollar weighed on base and precious metal prices.
Gold futures fell 0.4 percent to $1,170.6 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Lisa Von
Ahn and James Dalgleish)