By Nichola Saminather
(Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed just shy of this week's record high on Thursday, led by mining shares that received a boost from stronger gold prices as investors sought refuge from surging inflation.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 120.05 points, or 0.56%, at 21,581.98
The benchmark hit an all-time high of 21,594.52 on Tuesday.
The materials index, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 2.6%
Spot gold climbed 0.7% to the highest level since June, as investors sought cover after U.S. data on Wednesday showed inflation hit a 31-year high in October. [GOL/]
"The gold/inflation linkage is a fair conclusion to draw," said Brian Madden, portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel.
"Bond markets are closed today too, for Remembrance Day, so investors who might otherwise have been selling bonds in a delayed reaction to yesterday’s inflation print could be instead buying inflation beneficiary stocks as a hedge," he added.
The Toronto benchmark index returned to gains after taking a breather in the previous session on the inflation data, which triggered expectations that central banks could raise interest rates more rapidly to cool the spike in prices.
The healthcare stocks index gained 2.7% as Aurora Cannabis Inc jumped 7.4% after analysts at CIBC World Markets and Cowen raised their target prices for the marijuana producer. Rivals Cronos Group, Canopy Growth Corp, and Tilray Inc all rose between 3.8% and 4.6%.
CAE Inc was the biggest decliner on the index, slumping 10.1% as investors took stock of disappointing earnings from the aviation training specialist.
Element Fleet Management and Canadian Tire Corp also declined as analysts cut the former's target price after it reported third-quarter earnings on Wednesday, and the latter missed profit and revenue expectations.
(Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto; editing by Jonathan Oatis)