TORONTO — Canada’s largest stock index marched further into record territory Monday, closing above the 16,000 mark for the first time, despite modest declines on Wall Street.The S&P/TSX composite index rose 49.27 points to 16,002.78, led primarily by strengthening oil and gas shares, with some additional lift coming from health-care stocks.The energy sector was 1.76 per cent firmer as the December crude contract plumbed six month highs, advancing 25 cents to US$54.15 per barrel.“The broader take-away from today is that we’ve seen a bit of strength certainly coming from the energy sector, which is an area that has plagued the index for much of this year,” said Craig Fehr, a Canadian markets strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.“So in terms of the supply side we’ve seen a little bit of a bump to oil prices and that’s clearly helping the TSX today broadly.”Fehr pegged the rising price of crude on expectations that OPEC production cuts or freezes could be extended following news that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, supports extending an agreement by other major producers to limit output beyond next March. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to take up the agreement at its next meeting on Nov. 30.Energy gains also came on the back of better U.S. third-quarter GDP data reported last Friday, which boosted demand prospects for oil.On the health-care front, an announcement by alcoholic beverage company Constellation Brands that it’s buying a 9.9 per cent stake in medical marijuana producer Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED) helped boost that sector by 3.66 per cent, with shares of the company surging 19 per cent to $15.22.Meanwhile, U.S. stocks pulled back from their record-setting run on Monday, and indexes elsewhere around the world took a pause ahead of a frenetic week for markets.Investors are waiting to see who will be President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Federal Reserve, what several of the world’s biggest central banks will decide on interest rates, and whether Apple and other big U.S. companies can keep piling their profits higher.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 85.45 points to 23,348.74. The S&P 500 index was down 8.24 points to 2,572.83 and the Nasdaq composite index edged back 2.30 points to 6,698.96.In currency markets the Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 77.90 cents US, up 0.22 of a U.S. cent.Elsewhere in commodities, The December gold contract was up US$5.90 to US$1,277.70 an ounce. The December natural gas contract was unchanged at US$2.97 per mmBTU and the December copper contract added a penny at US$3.11 a pound.– With files from The Associated Press.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter
A statement by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN Special Representative for International Migration and Development, Peter Sutherland, and the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), William Lacy Swing, comes as European Union (EU) leaders grappled to find ways to stem the number of people risking their lives while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe after hundreds of refugees and migrants lost their lives on the high seas. “The European Union response needs to go beyond the present minimalist approach in the 10 Point Plan on Migration, announced by the EU on Monday, which focuses primarily on stemming the arrival of migrants and refugees on its shore,” read the joint statement. Noting that the EU was founded on fundamental principles of humanity, solidarity and respect for human rights, the statement said: “We urge EU member States to demonstrate moral and political leadership in adopting a holistic and forward-looking action plan centred upon these values.” “As a paramount principle, the safety, protection needs and human rights of all migrants and refugees should be at the forefront of the EU response,” it said. “EU leaders must look beyond the present situation and work closely with transit and origin countries both to alleviate the immediate plight of migrants and refugees and address in a more comprehensive way the many factors that drive them to resort to such desperate journeys by sea,” according to the statement. The statement warned that “enforcement alone will not solve the issue of irregular migration, but could increase the risks and abuse faced by migrants and refugees.” The officials urged the following “bold, collective action” to expand the range of measures under consideration: Setting in place a State-led, robust, proactive, and well-resourced search-and-rescue operation, urgently and without delay, with a capacity similar to ‘Mare Nostrum’ [the name given to a rescue operation in the Mediterranean by the Italian Navy] and a clear mission to save lives. Creating sufficient channels for safe and regular migration, including for low-skilled migrant workers and individuals in need of family reunification, and access to protection where needed, as safe alternatives to resorting to smugglers. Making a firm commitment to receive significantly higher numbers of refugees through EU-wide resettlement, in addition to current quotas, and on a scale which will make a real impact, combined with other legal means for refugees to reach safety. Bolstering arrangements to support those countries receiving the most arrivals (Italy, Malta and Greece) and to distribute responsibility more equitably across the European Union for saving lives and protecting all those in need. Combatting racist and xenophobic rhetoric vilifying migrants and refugees.According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), the Mediterranean has emerged in recent years as the most dangerous of the world’s four major sea routes in use by refugees and migrants. The other three main routes involve the Bahamas and Caribbean, the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and the Bay of Bengal. Last year, some 219,000 refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean, and at least 3,500 lives were lost, UNHCR said, adding that so far this year, more than 30,000 people are known to have made crossings to Italy and Greece – the first and second largest countries of arrival respectively. And numbers have recently been picking up further as sea and weather conditions improve.