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S&P/TSX composite gains as investors increasingly bet end of rate hikes is near

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index gained more than one per cent Friday on broad-based strength after the latest GDP report helped bolster hopes that the Bank of Canada could be done hiking interest rates, while U.S. markets were mixed.

It’s not every day that Toronto markets diverge so much from the U.S., which tends to set the tone, said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at iA Private Wealth. But usually, it’s because of the way the TSX is weighted compared with U.S. indexes.

“It's one of those days where what is trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange is working,” said Small.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 252.74 points at 20,545.36, a strong start to September after a choppy August.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 115.80 points at 34,837.71. The S&P 500 index was up 8.11 points at 4,515.77, while the Nasdaq composite was down 3.15 points at 14,031.81.

Gains in energy stocks were a big part of the market strength north of the border, with the price of oil closing in on US$86 per barrel and the TSX energy index up almost two per cent.

Meanwhile, weakness in tech stocks took a bigger toll in the U.S., where the sector pulls much more weight, said Small.

“When tech is not having a good day, it's very difficult for the (U.S.) market to have a great day.”

In the U.S., investors were eyeing the highly anticipated jobs report, the capstone to what’s been a heavy week for economic data. The report showed that the labour market is still healthy but showing signs of cooling.

In Canada, new economic data was in less of a grey zone: Statistics Canada reported the economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent in the second quarter, when economists were expecting an expansion.

“I don't think anybody was anticipating a negative second quarter,” said Small.

The surprise report appeared to boost confidence that the central bank will not only hold its key interest rate next week but perhaps even be done with its tightening cycle.

“I think that's enough information to take a rate hike off the table next week,” said Small. “The question becomes, do they do another hike in November or sometime before the end of the year?”

If the data continues to show weakness, the answer is likely no, he said. But any surprise upticks in inflation or economic growth could pace the way for another hike by the central bank.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.64 cents US compared with 73.90 cents US on Thursday.

The October crude oil contract was up US$1.92 at US$85.55 per barrel and the October natural gas contract was down less than a penny at US$2.77 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up US$1.20 at US$1,967.10 an ounceand the December copper contract was up three cents at US$3.85 a pound.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD)

Rosa Saba, The Canadian Press