S&P/TSX catches up with U.S. markets to start second half of year on broad rally

·4 min read

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index began the second half of the year with a broad rally that mirrored Friday's Canada Day performance of U.S. markets.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 167.50 points to 19,028.86 after reaching an intraday high of 19,129.70.

U.S. stock markets were closed for the Independence Day holiday but gained about one per cent to close out the week.

The key energy and materials sectors led the Toronto market that faced light trading, said Mackenzie Investments' chief economist Todd Mattina.

"Those are the big leaders and of course those are big components of the TSX so those are two of the key driving factors," he said in an interview.

Markets are coming off a very weak first half of the year, with the TSX concluding its weakest quarter since before the pandemic while U.S. markets endured their worst six-months run in decades on fears that rising interest rates will throw the economy into a recession.

Mattina doesn't see the first-half weakness persisting through the rest of the year. In fact, he said there's already been some surprises for investors with 10-year U.S. government treasury yields falling in two weeks to 2.88 per cent after peaking at 3.5 per cent.

"Investors holding traditionally balanced stock-bond portfolios are getting some diversification benefits again as bond yields came down in the last few weeks, so this has been a welcome sign I'm sure for many investors."

Energy increased 2.7 per cent as crude oil prices rose on continuing worries about supply constraints from the war in Ukraine, potential curbed demand from an economic slowdown and persistently high inflation.

The August crude contract was up US$2.23 from Friday's settled price of US$110.66 per barrel and the August natural gas contract was up 15.1 cents at US$5.88 per mmBTU.

Vermilion Energy Inc. surged 8.7 per cent on the day.

"Even in a world of slowing economic growth, inflation expectations are still on the high side and sticky, and there's lots of downside risks in the sense of energy price shocks coming out of Europe and the war in Ukraine, so there's many risks to the inflation outlook," Mattina said.

The Canadian dollar traded for 77.72 cents US compared with 77.60 cents US on Thursday.

Materials rose 2.2 per cent on higher bullion prices with shares of New Gold Inc. 8.0 per cent.

The August gold contract was up US$6.80 at US$1,808.30 an ounce and the September copper contract was down 3.7 cents at US$3.57 a pound.

The coming week will see investors parsing the minutes from the last U.S. Federal Reserve meeting for any signs of an eventual easing in interest rate hikes. The Fed and Bank of Canada are each expected to approve additional three-quarters of a percentage point increases this month, but later actions are unknown.

Mattina said central banks are grappling with the choice of whether to aggressively lift rates to bring inflation down or take a more gradual approach given growing signs of an economic slowdown.

Those scenarios have different implications for investors with bond yields coming down sharply and equity markets wobbly.

"The Fed is very concerned about ensuring that they remain credible as an inflation fighter. If they were to see long-term inflation expectations become de-anchored from their two-per-cent target, they would need to raise rates even more aggressively, so they need to put a very strong message out to investors that they are going to be credible in bringing down inflation."

The U.S. will also release on Wednesday job openings and labour turnover survey data for May. Recent data has shown how hot the labour market is with about two open positions for every unemployed person, Mattina said.

The week will culminate with employment data in Canada and the U.S. that will be an important guidance for the Bank of Canada upcoming interest rate decisions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:VET, TSX:NGD, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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