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The TSX set a new all-time high of 15,534 on Wednesday. (Canadian Press)

Canada's benchmark stock index hit a new all-time high of 15,561 on Wednesday, buoyed by higher commodity prices and despite some shaky corporate profits.

The S&P/Composite Index stared the day slightly lower, before starting a steady march upwards in the late morning. The index finished 84 points higher — enough to better the previous record close, set in late July.

That, in turn was the highest the index has been since before the recession, dating back to the summer of 2008.

Two large retailers were in the new, as Sears Canada posted a quarterly loss of $21.3 million, or 21 cents per share, compared to a profit of $152.8 million, or $1.50, a year ago. Same-store sales were off by seven per cent and the shares lost 60 cents to $15.45.

Discount retailer Target revealed a new round of bleak Canadian numbers, with same-store sales off 11 per cent, contributing to an even wider operating loss at the company's Canadian division — ​$169 million at this time last year to $204 million this year. 

Fed reaction

Most New York markets were also up, but not by as much. The Dow Jones industrials climbed 59.54 points to 16,979.13, the Nasdaq inched down just over a point to 4,526.48 and the S&P 500 index was up 4.91 to close at 1,986.51.

Investors were looking to the minutes from the Federal Reserve policy decision last month for direction. They revealed that some officials thought the economy was improving enough last month that the Fed would need "to call for a relatively prompt move" toward reducing the support it has been providing. 

That was enough to send markets higher still, but the real catalyst will likely come later this week when the bank's head delivers a speech at the central bank's annual economic symposium.​

"Janet Yellen's speech in Jackson Hole will most likely guide the markets (now that) earnings season is winding down," Doug Cote, chief market strategist with Voya Investment Management, said.

Metals and mining stocks were a particular strength, up almost 2 per cent on the TSX as copper for September delivery jumped seven cents to $3.15 US a pound.

The TSX's energy sector was up slightly, despite crude oil prices inching lower.