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TSX up for 10th week with gain as weak jobs reports support continued easy money

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TORONTO — Canada's main stock index rose for a 10th consecutive week to a record high as investors welcomed weak jobs numbers that reinforced the need for continued easy monetary policy.

"We're rocking," said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at IA Private Wealth.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 181.76 points to a record close of 19,472.74 after hitting an intraday peak of 19,491.51. The Toronto market closed up 1.9 per cent for the week and 11.7 per cent so far in 2021.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 also set records. The Dow rose 229.23 points at 34,777.76. The S&P 500 index was up 30.98 points at 4,232.60, while the Nasdaq composite was up 119.40 points at 13,752.24. 

The tone was set Friday morning after jobs reports for April in Canada and the U.S.

Canada's labour market lost 207,000 jobs last month as a spike in COVID-19 variant cases led to renewed public health restrictions. The unemployment rate rose to 8.1 per cent with Ontario losing the most jobs.

In the U.S., nonfarm payrolls rose by only 266,000 jobs, falling well short of the one million jobs expected by some, while the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.1 per cent.

Small described the employment situation as "growing pains" after a strong March. 

"It says that the recovery is not going to be a straight line. The recovery is going to take longer on both sides of the border," he said in an interview. 

Investors welcomed the bad US. jobs report because it reinforced the Federal Reserve's decision not to quickly taper stimulus by raising interest rates and reducing bond purchases.

"I think this gives the Federal Reserve some cover to be able to stay along that path of not even thinking about raising interest rates."

Small said the Bank of Canada should step back from its vow to start tapering stimulus.

U.S. President Joe Biden seized on the jobs report to say it reinforces the need for his massive infrastructure spending proposals.

All 11 major sectors on the TSX climbed in a broad-based rally led by the health care, energy, materials, consumer discretionary, industrials and technology sectors.

Health care increased 4.1 per cent as shares of Organigram Holdings Inc. surged 12.4 per cent and Aurora Cannabis Inc. was 5.2 per cent higher.

Energy and materials were both up 1.6 per cent on higher commodity prices.

The June crude contract was up 19 cents at US$64.90 per barrel and the June natural gas contract was up three cents at nearly US$2.96 per mmBTU. 

The June gold contract was up US$15.60 at US$1,831.30 an ounce and the July copper contract was up 14.6 cents at US$4.75 a pound. 

That pushed Enerplus Corp. up 5.4 per cent, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. up 3.3 per cent and Suncor Energy Inc. 2.5 per cent higher.

Oceanagold Inc. soared 17.7 per cent while Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. was up 11. 1 per cent.

Air Canada gained 3.2 per cent and Canadian Pacific Railway was up 2.4 per cent to help the industrials sector.

The Canadian dollar topped 82 cents to trade for 82.26 cents US compared with 81.97 cents US on Thursday. 

Small said the market gains now likely mean the second half of the year will be bumpier and prompt a conversation by fall about raising interest rates by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

"As long as we get some humble pie every now and again this market seems to be in the right spot. If your money's not invested today then I don't know when it ever would be."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021. 

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRQ, TSX:OGC, TSX:CP, TSX:AC, TSX:OGI, TSX:ACB, TSX:ERF, TSX:CNQ, TSX:SU, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) 

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press