A sign board in Toronto displays the TSX close on Monday March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

S&P/TSX composite up as dollar, energy, materials and health-care sectors rise

S&P/TSX composite up as dollar, energy, materials and health-care sectors rise

TORONTO — Worries about a new COVID-19 strain in the U.K. that affected stock trading earlier this week seemed to evaporate on Wednesday as most North American markets rose in a tide of pre-Christmas optimism.

“Sentiment is up, the market looks pretty good, it’s a positive day, we’ve only got another half day before Christmas,” said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at HollisWealth, referring to the shortened market hours on Christmas Eve.

“We’re ending on a good note and hopefully we can have a bit of a Santa Claus rally in between Christmas and New Year’s.”

Canada’s main market indicator, the S&P/TSX composite index, closed up 41.11 points at 17,593.57 as the dollar gained ground against its American counterpart and higher prices for oil drove energy sectors higher.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 114.32 points at 30,129.83. The S&P 500 index was up 2.75 points at 3,690.01, while the Nasdaq composite was down 36.80 points at 12,771.11.

The Canadian dollar traded for 77.78 cents US compared with 77.47 cents US on Tuesday, rising after three straight days of declines.

“It’s more U.S. dollar weakness than Canadian dollar strength,” said Small, describing the American greenback as a “security blanket” that sells off with good news.

“Whenever there’s fear in the world, that’s the fear trade, but when the fear subsides, either for a day or for a week or whatever period, you’ll find money leaving the U.S. dollar and therefore other currencies moving higher against the U.S. dollar.”

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that real gross domestic product grew 0.4 per cent in October, marking the sixth consecutive month of growth and slightly beating the average economist estimate of a 0.3 per cent gain.

The agency also released a preliminary estimate for November, which showed a 0.4 per cent expansion.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the government released reports that gave a mixed picture of the economy, including one that said fewer U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits last week.

Another said that orders for long-lasting goods strengthened by more than expected last month, a good sign for the nation’s manufacturers. But a third report noted consumers pulled back on their spending by more last month than economists expected. It was the first drop since April.

But the upbeat mood in the stock markets has more to do with growing optimism that the pandemic will be defeated eventually, Small said, allowing people and industries to get back to work.

“All in all, I think we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

“I think the markets and investors really sense that it’s not a matter of ‘if’ anymore, it’s just a matter of ‘when.’”

The energy sector led the way on the Toronto Stock Exchange with a 4.36 per cent gain as the February crude oil contract jumped US$1.10 to US$48.12 per barrel.

Oilsands producer MEG Energy Corp. was up 9.4 per cent at $4.65, Crescent Point Energy Corp. rose almost nine per cent to $3.05 and Enerplus Corp. was ahead 7.45 per cent at $4.04.

Marijuana stocks helped the health-care sector to a two per cent jump, with Canopy Growth Corp., Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Aphria Inc. all up by almost four per cent.

The biggest loser among sectors was information technology, brought down by the same software companies that contributed to its gains earlier this week.

Shopify Inc. fell 6.5 per cent to $1,542.46 and Constellation Software Inc. was off 4.88 per cent to $1,687.22.

“When the vaccines are rolling out, when everybody’s feeling confident that people are going to get back out there living life again, you tend to find a lot of these ‘stay-at-home-trade’ sell-offs, like a Shopify,” said Small.

The February gold contract was up US$7.80 at US$1,878.10 an ounce and the March copper contract was up four cents at US$3.56 a pound.

The January natural gas contract closed down 17 cents at US$2.61 per mmBTU.

— By Dan Healing in Calgary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2020.


The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta justice minister sorry for saying feds, others rooting for COVID disaster

Blame and responsibility have recently been at the centre of debate in Alberta

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Northcott Rodeo Inc. Facebook page)
Alberta takes legal action against pastor, rodeo organizers for gatherings

Rallies and protests have been occurring regularly in Alberta

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Coalition says users were shut out of drug decriminalization proposal, demands redo

Health Canada is working on Vancouver request for exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Singer Celine Dion performs during her first World Tour show called Courage Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Songbird Uncaged: Celine Dion readies return to Las Vegas stage for 10-date run

Starting on Nov. 5, Dion will play 10 dates at the Resorts World Las Vegas theatre

An Empire Day/Victoria Day gathering of school children on Ross Street by the Cenotaph in the 1920s. On the right hand side, are members of the Red Deer Citizens Band (forerunner of the Red Deer Royals). (Photo via Red Deer Archives)
Victoria Day event helped after war

One hundred years ago, on May 24, 1921, a major community event… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Gwynne Dyer: Independence is a one-way gate

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland declared in 2014 that the referendum… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Most Read