TSX posts 5-1/2-month high as investors cheer Fed rate outlook

FILE PHOTO: The facade of the original Toronto Stock Exchange building is seen in Toronto

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose on Thursday to its highest closing level in more than five months, led by gains for the technology and materials sectors, as optimism grew that the Federal Reserve would slow the pace of interest rate hikes.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 61.81 points, or 0.3%, at 20,344.07, its highest closing level since June 9.

With U.S. markets shut for Thanksgiving, the focus remained on Wednesday's release of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting earlier this month pointing to a slower pace of rate increases starting as soon as December.

"Investors continue to respond bullishly to yesterday's FOMC minutes," Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, said in a note.

The Toronto market's technology sector rose 0.7% as declining bond yields raised the value to investors of the future cash flows that high-growth companies are expected to produce.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.8%, while heavily-weighted financials ended 0.2% higher.

The sector was helped by a gain of 0.7% for Manulife Financial Corp after the company said it will outsource its property operations in Canada to focus on its entrepreneurial investment management unit.

Corus Entertainment Inc was a standout performer on Thursday, with its shares gaining 5.7%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru, editing by Deepa Babington)