By Fergal Smith
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose on Wednesday to its highest closing level in nearly six months, helped by gains for technology and industrial shares, as comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell bolstered investor sentiment.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 175.85 points, or 0.9%, at 20,453.26, its highest closing level since June 9. For the month, it was up 5.3%, its second straight month of gains in excess of 5%.
"It does look like Christmas has come early for the TSX," said Elvis Picardo, a portfolio manager at Luft Financial, iA Private Wealth.
"The tone has been positive ever since we hit the lows for the year in the middle of October," Picardo said. "A large part of that has been driven by expectations that inflation will be dropping out here ... Powell's comments cemented that view."
Wall Street ended sharply higher after Powell said the Fed might scale back the pace of its interest rate hikes as soon as December.
Central banks globally have been raising interest rates in an attempt to cool inflation. Investors have worried that the aggressive pace of hikes could tip some major economies into recession.
The Toronto market's technology sector rose 4.6%, helped by a gain of 9.5% for e-commerce giant Shopify Inc.
Industrials climbed 1.5%, while heavily weighted financials ended 0.7% higher.
Financials rose despite a decline of 2.5% for the shares of National Bank of Canada, after the company's move to set aside more funds to deal with bad loans dented fourth-quarter earnings.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)