Loonie soars on hawkish BoC comments as financials help lead TSX gainers

TORONTO — The Canadian dollar surged to a level not seen in four months Wednesday as investors digested a more hawkish tone on interest rates by Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz.The loonie jumped 0.74 of a U.S. cent to an average price of 76.57 cents US after comments from the head of the central bank raised speculation that an interest rate hike could come as early as next month.The currency’s ascent helped send financials stocks higher, with that sector leading gainers on the Toronto’s S&P/TSX composite index, which climbed 74.36 points to 15,355.58.Bank and insurance stocks typically benefit from higher interest rates because it helps increase profits for short-term loans and increases yields for insurers.Poloz said in an interview broadcast on business news channel CNBC that the Canadian economy enjoyed “surprisingly” strong growth in the first three months of 2017 and he expected the pace to stay above potential.He also noted again that interest rate cuts that were put in place in 2015 appear to “have done their job.”TD Wealth portfolio manager James Morton says the tone of Poloz’s remarks signalled to financial markets that a rate increase at the bank’s next meeting on July 12 “is on the table and could certainly be in play.”But even if a hike does occur, he added, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be on a fast-moving upward trajectory.“It would be a very small incremental movement,” said Morton, adding that the central bank would “want to make sure they don’t cause too much of a dislocation in terms of other impacts across the market.”The bank lowered its rate twice in 2015 to the very low level of 0.5 per cent to help offset the effects of the oil-price shock. But Poloz says that growth has rebounded with an “encouraging” pace in recent months.Meanwhile south of the border, it was a similarly positive day for New York indexes as the Dow Jones industrial average gained 143.95 points to 21,454.61. The S&P 500 index added 21.31 points to 2,440.69 and the Nasdaq composite index was ahead 87.79 points to 6,234.41.In commodities, the August crude contract advanced 50 cents at US$44.74 per barrel and the August natural gas contract was up three cents at US$3.09 per mmBTU.The August gold contract gained $2.20 to US$1,249.10 an ounce and the September copper contract climbed a penny at US$2.68 a pound.— With files from Andy BlatchfordFollow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter. read more

Police standoff at Barton and MacNab

(Updated)No word from police tonight on a standoff that shut down a section of Barton Street for more than four hours, this evening. The area bounded by James and MacNab running from Murray to Mulberry Street was sealed off as police focussed their attention, on a home at the corner of Barton and MacNab.They say they will not have a release of information this evening, until at least midnight and so far we have not been able to confirm any of the information that we were able to gather at the scene.This all started around 3:30 this afternoon on Barton Street, between James and MacNab.Police were notified about a robbery, on the street and when the CHCH cameraman arrived, one of the victims shouted that he’d been robbed of $12,000 at gunpoint.Police then hustled the man, and his companion into a patrol car, and removed them from the scene.One is described as being in his 40’s, and walking with a cane. The other was a younger man, possibly in his 20’s.Police then sealed off the area and began a lengthy vigil, centered on a home at the corner of Barton and MacNab.At various times, we saw people both in a front window of the house, and on a porch at the side of the home. One of them shouted to police that he was calling the owner of the property.Around five o’clock, we saw those same residents exiting the house, under the direction of police.As the sun went down, residents of the area were told to stay in their homes, and at least one officer near Murray Street was seen securing a rifle, in the trunk of his car.Just after 7pm, members of the police tactical unit, appeared in the area, and an armoured vehicle was stationed outside the home.Spotlights were used to light the exterior, and half an hour later, police used a loud-hailer to call to any remaining occupants inside the house, ordering them to come to the door with nothing in their hands.When they received no response, members of the Emergency Response Unit opened the door and went in. After several minutes they came out again, without a suspect, and soon after, left the scene.Since that time,CHCH has contacted police to find out why they entered the house and what they may have been looking for.We also wanted to confirm, that the two men who called police to the scene in the first place had actually been robbed at gunpoint.But no information on this incident is forthcoming from police and we don’t know whether an armed suspect may still be at large, in the area of MacNab and Barton Streets. read more