Times Colonist

Main index rises as loonie’s value against U.S. dollar increases

- ANITA BALAKRISHN­AN

TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index crept higher on Friday as the loonie popped above 77 cents in afternoon trading.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 45.22 points at 17,396.56. The Canadian dollar traded for 77.01 cents US compared with 76.85 cents US on Thursday.

The S&P 500 rose to a record high on Friday on a short trading day in New York, after the Dow Jones industrial average crossed 30,000 for the first time earlier in the week.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 37.90 points at 29,910.37, the S&P 500 index was up 8.7 points at 3,638.35, while the Nasdaq composite was up 111.44 points at 12,205.85.

The rally to record highs came despite market closures for Thursday’s U.S. Thanksgivi­ng holiday and an early end to trading on Friday.

“The overall sentiment in equities we’ve seen since the [U.S. presidenti­al] election is much more positive —positive expectatio­ns on the economy, as a result of vaccines as a result of closure with the election, perhaps less volatility, and less geopolitic­al risk coming out of the White House,” said Philip Petursson, chief investment strategist at Manulife Investment Management.

“Investors are really looking at the environmen­t as if the glass is half full.”

The TSX, however, remains a few hundred points shy of its February record high of 17,970.51.

Toronto has limited non-essential shopping during the key holiday season amid a spike in cases of COVID-19, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said more than half of Canadians will be inoculated by next September “if all goes well,” amid limited domestic vaccine manufactur­ing capacity.

“It’s just a matter of time, and that’s really what the markets are focused on — markets being a forward-looking mechanism,” said Pertusson.

“Despite the lockdowns that we’re going through right now in Toronto, Peel or other areas of the country — despite the fact that we don’t have the vaccine readily available this year, it’s coming. The environmen­t is incrementa­lly improving.”

Petursson said the Canadian dollar was the “key thing” he was watching on Friday. “The Canadian dollar has been entirely lined up, in our view, with oil prices,” said Petursson.

The January crude contract was down 18 cents at $45.53 US per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down nearly 12 cents at $2.84 US per mmBTU. Although energy prices edged lower on Friday, Petursson said it was a good month for the sector, as crude prices have pushed gradually closer to $50 a barrel.

“It’s both supply that looks like it’s tightening up, and demand that looks like it’s improving on the back of a continuall­y improving economic environmen­t: a return to normal, which is a return to the workplace and return to travel,” said Petursson of oil prices.

The health care sector rose 4.89 per cent on Friday, led by a nearly 18 per cent jump in shares of Aurora Cannabis Inc. and a 7.36 per cent jump in Canopy Growth Corp. Petursson attributed the upswing to the potential for a vote on decriminal­ization of cannabis in the United States.

The February gold contract was down $23.10 US at $1,788.10 US an ounce and the March copper contract was up nearly nine cents at almost $3.42 US a pound.

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