Canada's main stock index falls slightly after two-day break, U.S. markets mixed

TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index gave back some of its recent gains on Friday in the Toronto Stock Exchange’s first day of trading after the Christmas and Boxing Day break.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 11.94 points from Tuesday’s record high close, ending the day at 17,168.21 after a low-volume session marked by declines in financials, health care and industrials, offset by slight increases in energy, mining and technology sectors.

Meanwhile, U.S. markets delivered mixed results after also posting recent record closes, with retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending leading the gains.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 23.87 points at 28,645.26 and the S&P 500 index finished the day up 0.11 points at 3,240.02.

The Nasdaq composite fell 15.77 points to 9,006.62.

“You’re having a ‘melt up’ in financial markets to end the year,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Cambridge Global Payments.

“The idea we’re looking at a temporary resolution in the U.S.-China trade war, combined with monetary stimulus coming from major central banks, combined with some cooling of tensions between the U.K. and the EU, are all combining to send equity markets soaring upward and risk assets more generally.”

Investors welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s comment that an interim “Phase 1” trade deal with Beijing was “getting done.” Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would hold a signing ceremony.

Traders are still waiting to see details of the agreement aimed at helping to settle a 17-month-old tariff war over China’s technology ambitions and trade surplus.

The Canadian dollar traded Friday at an average of 76.46 cents US, a gain of 0.45 cents compared with 76.01 cents US on Tuesday, and its highest level since Oct. 29.

“Overall, investors who were previously looking for safety, looking for any port in the storm, that had parked their money in the U.S., now are looking at assets elsewhere that could benefit more in the event that global economic conditions improve,” said Schamotta.

He said the Canadian dollar also got a boost from commodity prices on Friday.

The February crude contract settled at US$61.72 per barrel on Friday, up four cents from Thursday, and the February natural gas contract was at US$2.231 per mmBTU, down 5.4 cents from Thursday.

The February gold contract was US$1,518.10 an ounce, up US$3.70 from Thursday, and the March copper contract was at US$2.823 a pound, down two cents from Thursday.

In Toronto, one of the largest share price gains was registered by Oncolytics Biotech Inc., a company developing cancer treatments, whose stock rose $1.24 or almost 52 per cent to $3.64.

Shares in Shopify Inc., which provides an e-commerce platform for small and midsize businesses, jumped by $9.37 to $534.76, a gain of about 1.8 per cent.

TC Energy Corp. stock hit an all-time high of $70.35, up 51 cents or about 0.7 per cent. It announced Thursday that private investment company KKR and Alberta Investment Management Corp. would jointly buy a 65 per cent stake in its Coastal GasLink Pipeline to bring natural gas to the LNG Canada project on the B.C. coast.

Meanwhile, there was a 18.3 per cent decline in shares of Hexo Corp. to to $2.10, its lowest level in two years, after the cannabis company announced a US$25-million equity offering at a discounted share price.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. continued to drift lower on high volumes, dropping 12 cents or about 4.6 per cent to $2.50, after it said earlier this week it had asked chief corporate officer Cam Battley to step down from his key role in the company.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2019.

Index and currency in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD, TSX:TRP, TSX:ACB, TSX:SHOP, TSX:ONC)


The Canadian Press