North American stock markets finish higher, loonie up

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index finished higher on Monday as investors factored an optimistic perspective on the U.S. economic recovery against more worrying sentiment from the Bank of Canada.

The S&P/TSX composite index ended the session up 72.92 points at 15,670.00, giving back some of the triple-digit gains made earlier in the day.

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The materials sector gained 1.7 per cent as gold traders pushed bullion closer to the US$1,800 mark.

The industrials index rose 0.9 per cent while the financial sector was up 1.1 per cent.

A quarterly business outlook from Canada's central bank suggested that business sentiment across the country has weakened to its lowest levels since the 2008-09 recession, and that companies are taking a cautious and muted approach to rehiring.

The Bank of Canada said its findings suggest a "strongly negative" business sentiment in all regions and sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a stance that in some ways felt in opposition to signs of hope coming from investors in the United States.

Traders came off the Fourth of July holiday weekend with a spate of corporate deal-making to send their spirits higher, and Amazon stock hitting a new record high.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 459.67 points at 26,287.03. The S&P 500 index was up 49.71 points at 3,179.72, while the Nasdaq composite was up 226.02 points at 10,433.65.

Uber scooped up its competitor Postmates in a US$2.65 billion all-stock deal, giving the ride-hailing service another tool in its chest as it looks towards growing beyond its Uber Eats food delivery platform and into various other goods, including groceries, alcoholic beverages and pharmacy items.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced Sunday it would spend nearly US$10 billion to purchase natural gas assets from Dominion Energy.

Amazon's shares raced past the US$3,000 mark for the first time in the company's history, wrapping the day at US$3,057.04 per share.

Craig Fehr, investment strategist at Edward Jones, said a flurry of marquee events offered traders enough reason to swing the "pendulum of sentiment" back towards optimism.

He said last week's U.S. payroll data, which showed the labour market improving at a "reasonably quick clip" amid the pandemic, only added to the latest round of positivity, however short-lived it might be.

"You put some of that less-than-terrible economic data in the pot and what you get is investors that are looking beyond the current spike in new cases, particularly in parts of the south," he said.

"Our view has been that's not going to play out perfectly every single day. There are going to be hiccups."

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.84 cents US compared with 73.72 cents US on Friday.

The August crude contract slipped two cents at US$40.63 a barrel, while the August natural gas contract was up nearly 10 cents at US$1.83 per mmBTU.

The August gold contract was up US$3.50 at US$1,793.50 an ounce and the September copper contract was up more than two cents at US$2.77 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

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