TORONTO — Strong gains by Canada’s most valuable company as well as oil giant Suncor Inc. powered the S&P/TSX composite index to its best performance in nearly five months as it rebounded from Wednesday’s drop.
“Of course when Shopify itself is up seven per cent and it’s such a big weight in the TSX it does have some material move forward,” said Kevin Headland, senior investment Strategist at Manulife Investment Management.
The Ottawa-based technology company’s shares got a lift as quarterly losses weren’t as bad as expected and it offered good guidance.
Shopify also pointed to increases in offline shopping even as online sales eased.
“That’s been actually positive for markets, realizing it’s not just online business, it’s not just a pandemic-induced situation that has benefited Shopify,” Headland said in an interview.
Lightspeed Commerce shares climbed 6.7 per cent to help push the technology sector up 3.1 per cent.
Energy rose 4.6 per cent as Suncor shares surged 13.4 per cent after the Calgary-based company announced share buybacks and a doubling of its dividend back to pre COVID levels.
The sector’s gains came even though oil prices were relatively flat and natural gas prices decreased.
The December crude oil contract was up 15 cents at US$82.81 per barrel and the December natural gas contract was down 41.6 cents at US$5.78 per mmBTU.
Energy companies are expected to announce strong earnings this quarter because most of their forecasts were based on crude at US$55 to US$60 a barrel.
“A lot of attention will be put toward the guidance of where perhaps they think oil prices will be going over the next few quarters and making sure that investors don’t get too ahead of themselves when thinking that oil stays at $80,” said Headland.
He said the outlook calls for WTI to fall to US$60 early next year.
“So even the futures market is not expecting $80 to be the new norm.”
Industrials, consumer discretionary and health care were among 10 sectors that increased Thursday. The lone exception was materials, which slipped despite higher metals prices.
The December gold contract was up US$3.80 at US$1,802.60 an ounce and the December copper contract was up 4.9 cents at nearly US$4.44 a pound.
Overall, The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 242.54 points to 21,197.53.
U.S. markets were also higher, with the Nasdaq composite setting new record highs.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 239.79 points at 35,730.48. The S&P 500 index was up 44.74 points at 4,596.42, while the Nasdaq was up 212.28 points at 15,448.12.
Individual corporate earnings reports drove North American stock markets higher in the absence of much economic data aside from a slowing U.S. economy in the third quarter.
Headland expects the situation to continue over the next few weeks as investors focus on market fundamentals such as individual company financial reports rather than headline risks.
U.S. GDP numbers released Thursday were lower than expected at two per cent annual growth in the July-September period for the weakest quarterly expansion since the recovery from the pandemic began last year.
But Headland said the result wasn’t surprising given the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans claiming first-time unemployment benefits fell to a new pandemic low of 281,000.
The decrease is good news as people either found jobs or no longer need financial assistance “which is at least a positive trend to the economic environment in the U.S.”
The Canadian dollar traded for 80.98 cents US compared with 80.92 cents US on Wednesday.