Shopify surges to push TSX within hair of record high, loonie at three-year high


TORONTO - Canada’s main stock index set a record high midweek on renewed optimism for a rapid economic recovery that pushed the loonie to its strongest level in more than three years.

“The energy sector was among the top-performing sectors given today’s rally in crude prices, while the Canadian technology sector saw some outsized gains following the release of Shopify’s stronger-than-expected earnings results,” said Candice Bangsund, portfolio manager for Fiera Capital.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 181.86 points to 19,356.95 after hitting an intraday high of 19,403.54.

Technology, health care and energy each climbed by more than three per cent.

Shopify shares rose 11.1 per cent to $1,589.47 after the Ottawa-based e-commerce firm beat expectations with higher first-quarter profits as revenues surged 110 per cent to US$988.6 million.

Health care was helped by a nine per cent gain by cannabis producer Organigram Holdings Inc. and 8.8 per cent by Aphria Inc.

The key energy sector moved up as crude oil prices rose for nearly five-per-cent gain since Monday morning amid new signs of a recovering economy. The increase came despite OPEC moving to gradually increase output beginning in May and U.S. crude inventories rising.

“Oil prices advanced to a one-month high after the OPEC consortium expressed confidence in the outlook for global demand as vaccination rates accelerate,” Bangsund wrote in an email.

That came despite severe COVID-19 virus trends in India that may weigh on near-term energy consumption from the world’s third-largest oil user.

The June crude oil contract was up 92 cents at US$63.86 per barrel and the June natural gas contract was up 1.8 cents at US$2.96 per mmBTU.

Shares of MEG Energy Corp., Crescent Point Energy Corp. and Vermilion Energy Inc. increased 7.3, 6.9 and 6.3 per cent, respectively.

The Canadian dollar traded for 80.93 cents US compared with 80.63 cents US on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the loonie surpassed 81 cents for the first time since January 2018 after Canadian retail sales data revealed a sharp rebound in consumer spending February.

“(It) demonstrated Canada’s resilience in the wake of the pandemic, while higher crude prices also buttressed the loonie,” Bangsund added.

Statistics Canada said that retail sales rose 4.8 per cent to $55.1 billion in February, while core retail sales — which exclude gas stations and motor-vehicle and parts dealers — climbed 3.8 per cent in February, the first increase in three months.