Commodities boost TSX; U.S. indexes reflect geopolitical worries

TORONTO – Geopolitical turmoil boosted the prices of oil and gold on Tuesday, helping the Toronto stock market to a slightly higher close.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 25.45 points to 13,407.83, as both oil and gold prices rose in the wake of an incident in which Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane that entered its airspace from Syria.

The January contract for benchmark crude oil rose $1.12 to US$42.87 a barrel, while December gold advanced $7 to US$1,073.80 an ounce.

That boosted the global gold sector of the TSX, which gained nearly three per cent, while capped metals and mining was up 2.5 per cent and energy stocks rose nearly two per cent.

Ben Jang, a portfolio manager at Vancouver-based Nicola Wealth, said the boost in oil and gold prices was unlikely to persist.

“That kind of short-term event may be short-lived,” said Jang. “We’re looking at inventory levels that look like they’re continuing to build and, longer term, there is no clearcut catalyst for sustained higher oil prices, so this may be a one-off.”

Elsewhere in commodities, January contract for natural gas shed two cents to US$2.32 per mmBtu, while December copper added three cents to US$2.05 a pound.

Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar rose 0.36 of a U.S. cent to 75.14 cents US.

In New York, markets initially turned lower following the downing of the Russian plane and a Conference Board report that showed American consumer confidence in November was at its lowest level since September 2014.

However, U.S. indexes later recovered and the Dow Jones industrials finished the day up 19.51 points at 17,812.19, while the broader S&P 500 added 2.55 points to 2,089.14 and the Nasdaq edged up 0.33 of a point to 5,102.81.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index plunged to 90.4 in November from 99.1 in October — far lower than economists expected — amid worries over the state of the American jobs market.

In other economic news, the Commerce Department reported that U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.1 per cent in the July-September period, up from the 1.5 per cent rate it previously estimated. But even with the revision, growth slowed sharply from a 3.9 per cent gain in the second quarter.

In corporate news, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (TSX:ATD.B) hiked its quarterly dividend 1.25 cents to 6.75 cents per share as the Quebec-based convenience store and fuelling station operator reported an increase in second quarter earning. Couche-Tard shares were down 20 cents at $61.08 on the TSX.

Meanwhile, stock in George Weston Limited (TSX:WN) was up $1.37 or 1.26 per cent to $110 after the Toronto-based bakery company and parent of Loblaw (TSX:L) reported third-quarter profits rose from a year ago, mostly due to an improvement at Loblaw.