The Toronto Stock Exchange closed in positive territory for the sixth consecutive day on Thursday and pushed Canada's benchmark stock index to its highest level of the year.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed at 13,124, up 106 points or 0.8 per cent on the day. That's the highest level the benchmark index has been at in calendar 2016.

Since the beginning of the year, the TSX rattled off a long series of losses before bottoming out at 11,843 on Jan. 20. 

Since then, Canadian stocks have come roaring back and are now up by 1,300 points from their low of six weeks ago. The index is still well off its all-time high of 15,561 set in the summer of 2014, before oil prices dove from over $100 US a barrel to below $40 today.

The TSX has been buoyed by energy companies that have quietly rallied as oil prices have seemingly found a bottom above $30 a barrel. 

"We've had a pretty nice run of late because of oil prices steadying and positive macro-economic data," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

Oil held its value today, with the benchmark North American contract up four cents at $34.70 US a barrel.

The Canadian dollar also edged higher, rising 0.1 of a cent to 74.64 cents US.

Foreign exchange trader Rahim Madhavji of Knightsbridge FX said investors are reassessing the interest rate picture for the rest of the year, thinking the U.S Federal Reserve will move more slowly.

"Market expectations of a Bank of Canada rate cut have dwindled, while the repricing of the Fed 2016 rate hike outlook looks to be a strong possibility, given relatively strong economic performance," he said.

Gold helps TSX move higher

The federal government loudly signalling it plans to spend heavily to stimulate the economy for the next few quarters is good news for other companies in the broader economy, especially the big banks whose shares have rallied since posting earnings last week.

Gold has also been a positive force, up $21 US on Thursday to $1,261 US an ounce. Many gold companies, including Goldcorp, Barrick, Yamana Gold and others, are also higher, which pushes up the overall index.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 44 points to 16,943, the S&P was up six points at 1993 and the Nasdaq rose four points to 4,704.

American markets have not come back as far as Canadian stocks. The Dow and S&P are still off by 2.5 per cent and the Nasdaq is down six per cent from the beginning of 2016.

The U.S. non-manufacturing sector expanded at a slower pace in February from January, but traders are anticipating the latest U.S. jobs report on Friday.

With files from Reuters News Agency