CHICAGO (MarketWatch) Canadian stocks gained Friday, sidestepping the steep selloff that knocked U.S. markets, as commodities and related stocks jumped on worries Egyptian protests could lead to unrest in the regions main oil-producing nations.
The S&P TSX Composite Index /quotes/comstock/11t!i:isptx (CA:$ISPTX 13,438, +27.38, +0.20%) rose 27.38 points, or 0.2%, to 13,437.58 on Friday.
Egypt;s technology shutdown
Egypt’s crackdown on protesters intensifies with access to most forms of mass communication, including the Internet, mobile and SMS down.
The benchmark, which often takes cues from U.S. stock markets, remained higher even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,824, -166.13, -1.39%) dropped more than 166 points Friday after increasingly violent protests in Egypt caused oil prices to spike.
Crude oil for March delivery /quotes/comstock/21n!f:cl\h11 (CLH11 89.49, +3.85, +4.50%) closed up $3.70, or 4.3%, at $89.34 a barrel, its biggest one-day gain since May.
Suncor Energy Inc. /quotes/comstock/11t!e:su (CA:SU 40.04, +1.49, +3.87%) shares jumped 3%, while Nexen Inc. /quotes/comstock/11t!e:nxy (CA:NXY 24.26, +0.55, +2.32%) shares gained 2.3%. Canadian Oil Sands /quotes/comstock/11t!e:cos (CA:COS 26.66, +0.36, +1.37%) gained 1.4%.
With political unrest in North Africa expanding from Tunisia to Egypt concerns have been growing about the possibility that shipping lanes could be blocked, particularly the Suez Canal, wrote CMC Markets Canada analyst Colin Cieszynski in emailed comments.
He said the possibility was supporting both oil prices and the shares of companies that produce oil from the much more politically stable Athabaska oil sands region.
Shares of major gold producers Goldcorp Inc. /quotes/comstock/11t!e:g (CA:G 40.84, +0.43, +1.06%) gained 1.1% and Barrick Gold Corp. /quotes/comstock/11t!e:abx (CA:ABX 47.39, +1.37, +2.98%) advanced 3%. Silver Wheaton Corp. /quotes/comstock/11t!e:slw (CA:SLW 31.47, +1.67, +5.60%) shares jumped 5.6%.
Gold futures rallied $22.30, or 1.7%, to $1,340.70 an ounce as investors flocked to assets deemed safe-havens. Read more on gold futures.
Supporting sentiment, the U.S. Commerce Department said earlier that the U.S. economy grew 3.2% in the final three months of 2010, with consumer spending at its highest levels in more than four years. Read more on GDP.
Statistics Canada, however, reported slower job growth in 2010 than estimated. The statistics agency previously based its employment data on the 2001 census, but has adjusted to incorporate 2006 census figures. December employment dropped 0.6% with the revised census data, suggesting Canadas economy has not fully recuperated from the recession.
The U.S. dollar /quotes/comstock/21o!x:susdcad (USDCAD 1.0011, +0.0006, +0.0600%) bought 1.0010 Canadian dollars, up from 99.34 cents at close Thursday.