Canada's main stock market in Toronto delivered triple-digit gains Friday as crude prices spiked and investors shook off the gloom that sent stocks into free fall through the week.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite Index rallied 293.87 points, or 2.43 percent, to close at 12,381.24 points. All of the TSX index's eight main sub-sectors were higher.
The prices of oil, which hit a 12-year low Thursday, reversed course in dramatic fashion. The West Texas Intermediate for March delivery moved up 3.23 U.S. dollars, or 12.3 percent, to settle at 29.44 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for April delivery increased 3.3 dollars to close at 33.36 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Crude oil began rising late Thursday on prospects for a coordinated production cut. That possibility was sparked by comments from the energy minister of United Arab Emirates, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Oil volatility has been high this year, with 10-20 percent price rises and falls common within only a few trading sessions. Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN AMRO, said Friday's jump is "an indicator that it's not a one-way price movement anymore ...we will see a period of high volatility."
North American markets sentiment was also being boosted by a report that showed U.S. consumer spending rebounding in January, leading to hopes that economic growth was picking up after stalling at the end of 2015.
Riding the oil rally, TSX's energy and mining stocks recorded big gains, up 3.34 percent and 10.79 percent, respectively. Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources rose 4.40 percent to 27.75 Canadian dollars (about 20 U.S. dollars) per share. Teck Resources, Canada's largest diversified mining company, rocketed 25.05 percent to 6.44 Canadian dollars per share.
Cenovus Energy Inc. jumped 4.01 percent after the Canadian oil producer said it may sell up to 5 billion U.S. dollars of stock, debt or other securities, a day after it announced a dividend cut, as the company shores up its balance sheet amid a slump in oil prices.
The company filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a mixed shelf offering after the company also said Thursday it would cut its 2016 budget and lay off more employees.
The overall financial group also went up 3.59 percent. Manulife Financial Corporation added 2.97 percent, Royal Bank of Canada increased 4.58 percent, and Toronto-Dominion Bank ended higher 3.65 percent.
Among the downers on the index, shares in Telus fell 2.7 percent to 38.61 Canadian dollars a share, a day after the telecom company reported a fall in quarterly profit, hurt by increased competition and weaker demand for its wireless services.
TMX Group Ltd., which owns and operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, reported a fall in the fourth-quarter adjusted profit, which missed analyst estimates, as sustained low commodity prices hurt a large portion of its resource-based issuers.
"Economic factors, particularly the prolonged slump in commodity values, continued to weigh heavily on the performance of the Canadian economy and on key elements of our market ecosystem," said Lou Eccleston, TMX chief executive.
The exchange operator had been seeking to diversify its business after suffering from weak commodity prices alongside its rump of resource-linked listings. It moved to expand its offerings for the mutual fund industry in the quarter.
TMX also faces rising competition from aggressive new competitor Aequitas Innovations' Neo exchange and Nasdaq's acquisition of Chi-X Canada. Up to Friday's close of 37.66 Canadian dollars a share, the stock of TMX has lost nearly a quarter of its value on the TSX in the past 12 months.
Stock markets will be closed Monday throughout North America, Canada for Family Day, and the U.S. for President's Day.
On the currency exchange front, the Canadian dollar was traded higher at 0.7214 U.S. dollar, compared with Thursday's closing rate of 0.7183 U.S. dollar.