By Fergal Smith
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose on Wednesday to its highest level in more than a week as higher oil prices boosted energy shares and stronger-than-expected bank earnings bolstered financials.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 97.55 points, or 0.5%, at 20,383.75, its highest closing level since May 17. It was the fourth straight day that the index advanced.
The heavily-weighted financial services sector gained 0.75%, as Bank of Nova Scotia and Bank of Montreal kicked off second-quarter earnings for the sector with better-than-expected profits. Bank of Nova Scotia rose 2.9%, while Bank of Montreal was down 0.2%.
"We have had a little bit of a positive surprise," said Gregory Taylor, portfolio manager at Purpose Investments. "There was some concern with the banks, whether they would be hurt by the weakness in the Canadian consumer, but that does not seem to be the case as of yet."
Canada's main stock index is expected to advance this year less than previously thought, as economic growth slows and central banks raise interest rates, a Reuters poll found.
All participants at the Federal Reserve's May 3-4 policy meeting backed a half-percentage-point rate increase to combat inflation they agreed had become a key threat to the economy's performance and was at risk of racing higher without action by the U.S. central bank, minutes of the session showed.
Technology rose 1.1%, while energy ended 2% higher as oil prices climbed. U.S. crude oil futures settled up 0.5% at $110.33 a barrel, buoyed by tight supplies.
Among the sectors that lost ground was materials, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies. It dipped 0.5% as gold fell 0.7% to about $1,853 per ounce.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio)