Cannabis, Health-Care Stocks Lead Pack Upward

BlackBerry, Energy Stocks Soar, Too

It was another day of healthy gains Wednesday, as health-care stocks pulled away from the field. Strong advancers were posted by energy stocks, too.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 61.56 points to close Wednesday at 16,371.55

The Canadian dollar slid 0.21 cents to 79.76 cents U.S.

Canadian cannabis producers extended sharp rallies as California opened the largest U.S. state market for legal marijuana, with Canada expected to follow by mid-2018.

Canopy Growth jumped $3.57, or 11%, to $35.94, Aphria was up $1.27, or 6.3%, at $21.46 and Aurora Cannabis surged $2.36, or 20%, to $14.18.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International gained $1.62, or 6% to $28.86 after announcing it had paid down more of its debt load.

The energy group gained ground, as oil prices rose to new two-and-a-half year highs. Cenovus Energy was up 76 cents, or 6.2% at $12.94, and Canadian Natural Resources added 85 cents, or 1.9%, to $46.59.

BlackBerry rose $1.93, or 12.9%, to $16.95, hitting its highest levels since 2013, after saying that it will provide the foundational operating system for search engine company Baidu’s autonomous vehicle platform, the latest in a string of recent automotive design wins.

Utilities stubbed their toes, with Fortis dropped 38 cents, or $45.15, and Hydro One fell 18 cents to $22.22.

In real-estate, Collier’s International doffed eight cents to $76.52.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange vaulted 18.93 points, or 2.2%, to finish Wednesday at 889.97

The 12 TSX subgroups were evenly divided, with health-care sprinting ahead 5.9%, energy gushing 1.4%, and information technology clicking 1.1%.

The half-dozen laggards were weighed most by utilities, falling 1%, real-estate, waning 0.8%, and gold, dulling in price 0.7%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks rose to all-time highs Wednesday as a gain in chip stocks propelled the tech sector higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average popped 98.67 points to 24,922.68, as it closed in on the 25,000 mark.

The S&P 500 improved 17.25 points to 2,713.06, with tech rising 1.1%. It was also the first time the index closed above 2,700 for the first time. Energy stocks also surged 1.5% after U.S. crude posted its best settle since December 2014.

The NASDAQ composite index hiked 58.63 points to 7,066.53, with Advanced Micro Devices surging more than 5%. The tech-heavy index also completed its best start to a year since 2006.

The Register reported there is a security flaw with Intel processors. The report said the issue will require a significant security update of Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems to work around it. AMD shares jumped on the back of the report.

Nvidia's stock climbed 6.6%, following AMD's gains. Intel shares, meanwhile, declined more than 3.4%.

In corporate news, Scana shares popped 22.6% after Dominion Energy announced it was buying the South Carolina-based utility company for $7.9 billion.

In economic news, the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index hit 59.7% in December, while construction spending rose 0.8% in November. The Atlanta Federal Reserve raised its fourth-quarter real GDP forecast to 3.2% from 2.8%, citing the strong ISM number.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note were up, lowering yields to 2.45% from Tuesday’s 2.46%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices charged ahead $1.42 a barrel to $61.79 U.S.

Gold prices docked 60 cents to $1,315.60 U.S. an ounce.