The so-called Santa Claus rally was in effect Wednesday, as Canada’s main stock index closed higher on the first day of trading since the Christmas holiday.
The S&P/TSX composite index was up 114.97 points at 21,344.65.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 90.42 points at 36,488.63, an all-time high. The S&P 500 also hit a record high, moving up 6.71 points at 4,793.06, while the Nasdaq composite was down 15.50 points at 15,766.22.
Historically, stock markets have tended to rise during the last week of December and the first two days of the new year, giving rise to the term “Santa Claus rally.”
Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, said that appears to be what’s happening this year, as the S&P/TSX has posted a solid streak of gains over the last five trading sessions. Canada’s main stock index may also have been playing a little bit of catch-up Wednesday, as U.S. markets climbed earlier in the week when Canadian markets were closed for the Christmas break, he said.
In addition, Cieszynski said investors may be encouraged by this week’s news that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is now recommending that Americans with COVID-19 should isolate only for five days rather than 10 if they’re not showing symptoms.
Ontario’s top doctor postponed a news conference Tuesday so that the province can review isolation guidelines, while Quebec has already relaxed its isolation guidelines for healthcare workers who have tested positive.
“These have generally been seen as positives by the market,” he said. “The market I think has the sense that they (governments) are not going to go into the full-blown lockdowns of the past, but are actually trying to manage through this by trying to keep things open somewhat.”
The energy sector was the biggest winner in Wednesday’s trading, with the S&P/TSX Capped Energy Index up 1.97 per cent. Individual companies posting big gains included Crescent Point Energy Corp. (up 7.27 per cent) and MEG Energy Corp. (up 4.88 per cent).
The Canadian dollar traded for 78.10 cents US compared with 78.05 on Dec. 24.
The February crude contract was up 58 cents at US$76.56 per barrel, and the February natural gas contract was down 3.5 cents at $3.85 per mmBTU.
The February gold contract was down US$5.10 at US$1,805.80 an ounce and the March copper contract was down two cents at US$4.41 a pound.
Once the Santa Claus rally is in the rear window, Cieszynski said, it will be time to start watching in the new year for fourth-quarter earnings releases from top companies. Those should provide important insights into where the economy might be heading in 2022, he said.
“I think those will be particularly interesting in terms of how companies were impacted by some of the supply chain challenges, or the COVID Omicron wave,” Cieszynski said.
“How much were companies and their operations impacted? What were the ripple effects on the economy as this has gone through?”