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AFTER THE BELL: Fed chair’s comments boosts confidence on Wall Street, financials lead TSX higher

Investors snapped up bank stocks today, helping the TSX surge to triple digit gains.

The TSX’s heavyweight financials sector has wobbled for much of the year but jumped 1.8 percent on Wednesday, led higher by the Royal Bank of Canada.

RBC’s stock climbed 2.7 percent after its quarterly earnings beat analysts’ expectations. RBC reported fourth quarter earnings of $3.25 million, up 15 percent from a year ago.

The bank also had a record net profit of $12.4 billion for the year that ended Oct. 31, up $962 million, or eight percent from the prior year.

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Scotiabank’s stock also rose, up 2.8 percent after it announced that it is selling its banking operations to nine Caribbean countries.

Financials had plenty of company in the green. Nine of 11 sectors traded higher as the TSX rose 227 points.

A jump in pot stocks helped offset losses in the energy sector. Aurora Cannabis, which was the most actively traded company on the index, Aphria, and Canopy Growth climbed between seven and 10.3 percent.

But the energy sector fell into the red as oil dipped again.

Oil lost $1.28 to $50.28 US a barrel after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude inventories increased by 3.6 million barrels last week.

The Dow soared 617 points, sparked by comments from U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell who hinted towards a slowdown in interest rates.

Powell’s comments came as a relief to investors, due to the U.S. central bank hiking interest rates three times this year

It was an overall green day on Wall Street with bellwethers Boeing, Caterpillar, Apple, Home Depot and Walmart climbing between three and 4.8 percent.

The Nasdaq also jumped 169 points, driven by healthy gains in Microsoft and Netflix.

Gold and the Canadian dollar also climbed higher. Gold erased yesterday’s losses by jumping $7.20 to $1,220 an ounce while the loonie strengthened by 9/100ths of a cent to $0.7529 US.

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