Saudis assure Canadian customers, stocks up by noon

Tech, materials lead way

Canada's main stock index rose on Thursday, as energy shares bounced back on higher oil prices and Saudi Arabia reassured Canada on oil supplies following an ongoing diplomatic dispute.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index climbed 100.32 points to greet noon at 16,415.40

The Canadian dollar deducted 0.15 at 76.67 cents U.S.

A row over human rights in Saudi Arabia will not have any impact on Saudi oil supplies to Canada, its energy minister said on Thursday, reassuring customers after Riyadh froze new trade with Canada and ruled out mediation efforts.

Two of Canada's biggest insurance companies, Sun Life and Manulife Financial, on Wednesday reported second-quarter earnings which beat market expectations, benefiting in part from strong growth in Asia.

Shares of Manulife Financial gained 40 cents, or 1.7%, to $23.80, however shares of Sun Life fell 59 cents, or 1.1%, to $51.31.

Top percentage gainers on the TSX were shares of Pan Am Silver, which jumped $1.93, or 9.3%, to $22.65, after posting higher quarterly revenues.

Parex Resources fell $2.72, or 11.9%, to $20.06, top laggard on the TSX, followed by shares of Canadian Tire Corp, down $12.29, or 6.7%, to $170.11, after reporting disappointing quarterly results.

On the economic beat, Statistics Canada’s new housing price index increased in June, marking the first upward movement since November 2017.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said the trend in housing starts was 219,988 units in July 2018, compared to 221,738 units in June 2018.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange faded 1.1 points midday to 697.32

All 12 subgroups were higher in the noon hour, with information technology soaring 1.8%, while materials and health-care each climbed 1%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks traded little changed on Thursday as the S&P 500 was within striking distance of reaching an all-time high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 31.71 points to 25,552.04, as Merck lagged.

The S&P 500 gained 0.11 points to 2,857.81, as energy underperformed.

The NASDAQ gained 22.52 points to 7,910.85, as Amazon shares hit an all-time high and Apple rose nearly 1%.

Entering Thursday's session, the S&P 500 was just 0.5% away from reaching 2,872.87, a record high set on Jan. 26. The broad index has climbed back to record territory as strong quarterly earnings have largely offset worries about rising trade tensions.

Nearly 90% of S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results thus far. Of those companies, 76% have reported better-than-expected earnings. Overall, S&P 500 earnings for the second quarter are up more than 24% versus the year-earlier period.

Booking Holdings and Norwegian Cruise Line both reported better-than-expected earnings on Thursday. Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line rose more than 4%, but Booking Holdings fell after issuing a weak third-quarter profit forecast.

Trade tensions have simmered throughout the strong earnings season, however. Beijing announced Wednesday it would counter the most recent round of U.S. tariffs with its own. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced a 25% charge on $16 billion worth of U.S. goods. In total, 333 goods have been picked out by China, including vehicles, various types of fuels, recyclables and fiber optical cables.

The producer's price index remained unchanged in July, while economists expected a gain of 0.2%. The report comes as the latest reading of the consumer price index — a key metric for inflation — is set for release on Friday.

Prices for the benchmark for the 10-year U.S. Treasury gained sharply, lowering yields to 2.94% from Wednesday’s 2.97%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions

Oil prices shed three cents to $66.91 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices fell 70 cents to $1,220.30 U.S. an ounce.