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Toronto stock index and Wall Street hit new record highs, loonie down

The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.78 cents US, up from Friday's average price of 79.71 cents US. A loonie is pictured in North Vancouver on Dec. 31, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.78 cents US, up from Friday's average price of 79.71 cents US. A loonie is pictured in North Vancouver on Dec. 31, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

TORONTO — Rallying oil prices helped push Canada's main stock index and its U.S. counterparts into record territory on Wednesday, while the loonie lost ground.

The S&P/TSX composite index advanced 61.56 points to 16,371.55, with energy shares up 1.5 per cent as the February crude contract surged US$1.26 to US$61.63 per barrel.

Oil prices are at two-and-a-half-year highs and are still rising. One reason is that investors are concerned that a pipeline bombing in Libya last month and protests in Iran could reduce oil supplies.

"I didn't think oil could go any higher," said Allan Small, a senior investment adviser at Holliswealth. "There's a lot of things causing positive momentum for the price of oil which in my opinion is not sustainable."

Health-care stocks also gave the TSX a boost, with shares of licensed marijuana producers such as Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED) and Aphria Inc. (TSX:APH) up 10.91 per cent and 6.29 per cent, respectively, at the closing of markets.

South of the border, technology companies once again led U.S. stocks higher on Wall Street, with software-maker Oracle advancing 2.5 per cent and IBM adding 2.7 per cent .

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 98.67 points to 24,922.68. The S&P 500 index added 17.25 points to 2,713.06 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 58.63 points to 7,065.53. 

In currency markets, the Canadian dollar closed at an average trading value of 79.79 cents US, down 0.10 of a U.S. cent.

Elsewhere in commodities, the February natural gas contract gave back five cents to US$3.01 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was up US$2.40 to US$1,318.50 an ounce and the March copper contract was down two cents to US$3.26 a pound.

- With a file from The Associated Press.

 

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