Fi­nan­cials sec­tor boosts North Amer­i­can stocks


North Amer­i­can stock mar­kets fin­ished Fri­day on a pos­i­tive note, led by fi­nan­cial com­pa­nies as U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pre­pared to scale back reg­u­la­tions af­fect­ing the sec­tor.

Toronto’s S&P/TSX com­pos­ite in­dex climbed 77.28 points at 15,476.39, with the fi­nan­cials sec­tor up 0.8 per cent.

Base me­tals stocks on the TSX re­treated 3.19 per cent, fol­lowed by en­ergy com­pa­nies, which were down 0.10 per cent.

South of the bor­der, the Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age added 186.55 points at 20,071.46 and the S&P 500 climbed 16.57 points at 2,297.42. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite gained 30.57 points at 5,666.77, a new all-time high.

Michael Cur­rie, a vi­cepres­i­dent and in­vest­ment ad­viser at TD Wealth, says the fi­nan­cials sec­tor ben­e­fited from Trump’s first steps aimed at loos­en­ing reg­u­la­tions af­fect­ing the in­dus­try.

Trump signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der di­rect­ing the Trea­sury Sec­re­tary to ex­plore po­ten­tial changes to the Dodd-Frank law, which was im­ple­mented af­ter the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2008-09.

“The most reg­u­lated sec­tor of the mar­ket is fi­nan­cials, so every time we hear about reg­u­la­tions be­ing cut it tends to favour them the most,” Cur­rie said.

U.S. stocks also got a boost from a bet­ter-than-ex­pected jobs re­port. The U.S. La­bor Depart­ment re­ported that em­ploy­ers added 227,000 jobs last month - more than last year’s av­er­age monthly gain of 187,000.

“The mar­ket re­acted quite pos­i­tively,” Cur­rie said.

“There were many more jobs than pre­dicted. Also we know the pres­i­dent has put a hir­ing freeze on fed­eral jobs, so the jobs are be­ing cre­ated by the pri­vate sec­tor in­stead of the pub­lic sec­tor, which is what the mar­ket likes to see.”

On the flip side, how­ever, the U.S. unem­ploy­ment rate rose to 4.8 per cent, com­pared to 4.7 per cent in De­cem­ber.

The Cana­dian dol­lar was at 76.76 cents US, down 0.04 of a U.S. cent from Thurs­day’s close.

“It’s been trad­ing in the 70s for a while,” Cur­rie said.

“As we get closer to 80, Canada starts to get a lit­tle bit more wor­ried. It makes us a lit­tle less com­pet­i­tive when we’re up close to the 80-cent mark.”

In com­modi­ties news, the March crude con­tract added 29 cents at US$53.83 per bar­rel and March nat­u­ral gas lost 12 cents at US$3.06 per mmBTU.

The April gold con­tract gained $1.40 at US$1,220.80 an ounce and March cop­per fell seven cents at US$2.62 a pound.

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