TSX up slightly on Christmas Eve

The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) saw marginal gains one day before Christmas as materials and financial stocks improved, more than making up for the decline in the oil price which pushed down energy shares. Gold stocks did particularly well.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 18.22 points (0.12%) to 14,612.24 soon after the market opened.

The loonie climbed 0.17% of a cent to 86.14 US cents.

US markets extended their gains, with the Dow Jones industrials climbing 44.92 points to 18,069.09, after topping the 18,000-mark on Tuesday for the first time ever. The S&P 500 index rose 2.45 points to 2,084.62 after a record Tuesday, while the Nasdaq was 15.47 points up at 4,780.89.

Stock markets in the US and Canada will close on Wednesday at 1pm. Wall Street will reopen on December 26th, while the Toronto Stock Exchange will not open until Monday.

US stock markets lifted after news came out that the economy is growing much faster than expected. US GDP grew at its fastest pace (5% annually) in 11 years in Q3 2014, suggesting that expansion has definitely shifted into a new gear.

Statistics Canada reported on Tuesday that GDP in October grew by 0.3%, which was higher than most economists had predicted. However, despite the good performance, the recent decline in oil and commodity prices are likely to depress growth figures in 2015.

American investors were also encouraged by the fourth successive week of declining jobless benefit claims. The Labor Department reported today that for the week ending December 20th, unemployment benefit claims declined by 9,000 to 280,000.