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North American markets rally after U.S. rate hike, dovish comments from Fed chairman

·3 min read

TORONTO — North American markets ended the trading day in positive territory after a 0.75-point interest rate hike and dovish comments from U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell Wednesday sparked a rally in stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 281.88 points at 19,254.56.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 436.05 points at 32,197.59. The S&P 500 index finished the day up 102.56 points at 4,023.61, while the Nasdaq composite was up 469.85 points at 12,032.42.

"It’s bit of a sigh and relief going on because there definitely was nervousness in markets heading into this week," said Greg Taylor, chief investment officer at Purpose Investments, in an interview.

The 0.75-point hike from the Fed Wednesday afternoon - the second one in a row - was mostly expected, but there was some concern that there could be an even bigger increase, with the central bank leaning a bit more hawkish.

"The thought would be that they start to be too aggressive in the face of a slowing economy," Taylor said. "But today, everyone’s hearing what they want to hear, which has caused a bit of a bounce and everyone’s feeling good right now."

The Fed signalled that it would take a more measured approach to interest rate hikes as it aims to tackle out-of-control inflation.

"Relatively decent" earnings from tech giants Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google, and Microsoft Corp. after the bell Tuesday, also provided the markets with some fuel Wednesday, he added.

Taylor said he's got his eye on the Canadian energy sector over the next couple of days as earnings season ramps up.

"The energy stocks had been the superstars for the year and had done really good at the start of the year, then gave those gains back in June," Taylor said. "I think this is a good time for them to remind investors of just how strong they are."

Cenovus Energy Inc., TC Energy Corp., Imperial Oil Ltd., Enbridge Inc., and MEG Energy Corp. all report their latest quarterly earnings later this week.

South of the border, he’s got his eye on Amazon Inc. and will be watching to see if the company is facing the same stresses Walmart Inc. is facing. The retail giant slashed its second-quarter and full-year profit outlooks Monday, citing skyrocketing inflation affecting consumers' shopping habits.

Apple Inc. is another tech name he’ll be closely watching. Investors have been more cautious on the stock as of late as consumers pull back on spending.

Taylor said it will be a "welcome surprise" if earnings from these companies beat expectations.

The U.S. will also get an update on the economy Thursday when GDP numbers for the second quarter are released amid ongoing recession speculation.

"It’s not as concerning at this time until the data gets worse. It will be a headline that people watch, but then they’ll go back to looking at earnings," Taylor said.

Even if the data shows that the U.S. is in a recession, which is two quarters of negative economic growth, "it doesn’t feel like a classic (one), given how low unemployment is and how much cash is in the system already," he said.

The Canadian dollar traded for 77.69 cents US compared with 77.62 cents US on Tuesday.

The September crude contract was up US$2.28 at US$97.26 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was down 27 cents at US$8.55.

The August gold contract was up US$1.40 at US$1,719.10 an ounce and the September copper contract was up almost five cents at US$3.43 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X, TSX:CVE, TSX:TRP, TSX:IMO, TSX:MEG, TSX:ENB)

Adena Ali, The Canadian Press