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Canadian Stocks Are Rising On Strength Of Financials - Canadian Commentary

The Canadian stock market is climbing in early trade Thursday, adding to the strong gains of the previous session. The heavyweight financial sector is leading the way higher this morning after the Federal Reserve decided to hike interest rates yesterday. Healthcare and industrial stocks are also providing some support this morning.

Markets in Europe are modestly higher in choppy trading action Thursday. Investors have had their first opportunity to react to yesterday's Fed rate hike and Dutch voters rejected populism in a parliamentary election. Mining and energy stocks are rising, due to the slide in the dollar following the Fed's announcement. Banks are also climbing on expectations that they will benefit from higher interest rates.

Markets in the United States are struggling to find direction in early trade Thursday. After a slight uptick at the open, the markets have since slipped back near the flat line. While the Fed raised rates by a quarter point as widely expected, the central bank's projections called for only two more rate hikes this year.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is up 52.13 points or 0.34 percent at 15,573.04.

On Wednesday, the index closed up 141.30 points or 0.92 percent, at 15,520.91. The index scaled an intraday high of 15,534.19 and a low of 15,419.94.

The heavyweight Financial Index is increasing 0.54 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) is up 0.59 percent and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) is adding 0.70 percent. National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) is increasing 0.50 percent and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) is rising 0.54 percent. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) is advancing 0.16 percent and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) is gaining 0.23 percent.

The Capped Healthcare Index is higher by 0.57 percent. Extendicare (EXE.TO) is up 0.47 percent.

The Capped Telecommunication Services Index is up 0.29 percent. BCE (BCE.TO) is rising 0.09 percent and Manitoba Telecom Services (MBT.TO) is advancing 0.05 percent. TELUS (T.TO) is climbing 0.23 percent and Rogers Communication (RCI-B.TO) is adding 0.81 percent.

The Capped Industrials Index is up 0.29 percent. Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) is gaining 0.64 percent and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO) is adding 0.18 percent. Air Canada (AC.TO) is increasing 1.05 percent. Bombardier (BBD-B.TO) is climbing 3.38 percent.

The Capped Materials Index is up 0.08 percent. Franco-Nevada (FNV.TO) is rising 0.82 percent and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) is climbing 1.09 percent.

The Capped Information Technology Index is gaining 0.02 percent. Constellation Software (CSU.TO) is rising 0.04 percent and Sierra Wireless (SW.TO) is climbing 0.35 percent.

The Gold Index is declining 0.99 percent. Gold prices are surging Thursday as traders continued to assess yesterday's dovish Federal Reserve statement.

While the Fed raised interest rates by a quarter point, they delivered a sober assessment of the economy and subdued inflation outlook. Instead of foreshadowing three more interest rate hikes in 2017, the Fed still sees only two modest rate hikes by year's end.

B2Gold (BTO.TO) is down 1.21 percent and Kinross Gold (K.TO) is decreasing 1.51 percent. IAMGOLD (IMG.TO) is weakening by 2.33 percent.

Goldcorp (G.TO) is unchanged and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) is declining 0.36 percent. RBC Capital Markets upgraded its rating on both stocks from Underperform to Sector Perform.

The Energy Index is falling 0.05 percent. Crude oil prices are back near unchanged levels after paring their early gains.

Husky Energy (HSE.TO) is weakening by 0.06 percent and Encana (ECA.TO) is decreasing 1.70 percent. Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) is declining 0.54 percent and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) is losing 1.08 percent.

Premium Brands Holdings (PBH.TO) turned in strong quarterly results and raised its dividend by 10.5% to $0.42 per share. The stock is climbing 4.95

Transat (TRZ.TO) reported a quarterly loss on revenues of $689.3 million, compared with $725.7 million in 2016. Shares are surrendering 1.89 percent.

On the economic front, Eurozone inflation accelerated, as estimated, at the fastest pace in more than four years in February, final data from Eurostat showed Thursday. Headline inflation accelerated to 2 percent in February from 1.8 percent in January. The rate came in line with the flash estimate published on March 2. Inflation exceeded the central bank target.

First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits saw a modest decrease in the week ended March 11th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 241,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 243,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 240,000.

While the Commerce Department released a report on Thursday showing a rebound in new U.S. residential construction in the month of February, the report also showed a sharp pullback in building permits.

The report said housing starts jumped by 3.0 percent to an annual rate of 1.288 million in February after slumping by 1.9 percent to a revised 1.251 million in January. Economists had expected housing starts to climb to a rate of 1.260 million from the 1.246 million originally reported for the previous month.

Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity grew at a slower rate in the month of March, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia revealed in a report on Thursday. The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for general activity fell to 32.8 in March from 43.3 in February, although a positive reading still indicates growth. The index had been expected to drop to 30.0.

In commodities, crude oil futures for April delivery are down 0.28 or 0.57 percent at $48.58 a barrel.

Natural gas for April is down 0.058 or 1.95 percent at $2.923 per million btu.

Gold futures for April are up $26.30 or 2.19 percent at $1,227.00 an ounce.

Silver for May is up $0.437 or 2.58 percent at $17.36 an ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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