Tech recovery pushes S&P/TSX composite to post best week in a year

TORONTO – A broad-based rally led by a rebound in the technology sector and higher crude oil prices helped Canada’s main stock index to rise more than 100 points Friday and post its best week in a year.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 177.84 points to 21,271.85 for a 2.6 per cent gain in the first week of February despite losing more than 250 points Thursday.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 21.42 points at 35,089.74 after losing ground just before the close. The S&P 500 index was up 23.09 points at 4,500.53, while the Nasdaq composite was up 219.19 points at 14,098.01.

Markets got a shot in the arm from good corporate earnings, including Amazon Inc. which propelled the technology space a day after Facebook parent Meta Platforms missed expectations and dragged the market lower.

Strong U.S. jobs numbers also helped on Friday, while a weak employment report in Canada didn’t seem to hurt the Toronto market.

Stocks in Toronto was supported by crude oil prices rising near US$100 per barrel while bond yields climbed ahead of expected interest rate hikes and the yield curve steepened to the benefit of banks.

“So when you have banks up, oil up, you’re going to have a winning day in Toronto,” said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at IA Private Wealth.

“It’s been a topsy-turvy start to the year which has been very much expected by me and many others. Volatility is definitely going to be the word of 2022.”

U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased by 467,000 jobs last month, well above forecasts, and December jobs numbers were revised higher to 510,000 jobs created.

In Canada, the economy lost 200,100 jobs in January, the highest number in a year, amid stricter public health rules put in place to slow the COVID-19 variant. The job losses also pushed the unemployment rate to 6.5 per cent last month compared with 6.0 per cent in December.

“The economy down in the U.S. has definitely benefited from them not closing down, when obviously we’ve been hit by closures here in our country,” Small said in an interview.

Health care and technology led the TSX with only consumer staples, real estate and utilities down slightly to end the week.

Health care increased three per cent as shares of cannabis producers Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Tilray Inc. increased 7.2 and 6.2 per cent, respectively.

Technology climbed 2.7 per cent with Hut 8 Mining Corp. up 13 per cent and Shopify Inc. 8.8 per cent higher.

Energy gained 0.6 per cent with Baytex Energy Corp. up 4.4 per cent.

The March crude oil contract was up US$2.04 at US$92.31 per barrel after hitting an intraday high of US$93.17 per barrel. However, the March natural gas contract was down 31.6 cents at US$4.57 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.38 cents US compared with 78.87 cents US on Thursday.

The materials sector was helped by positive metals prices.

The April gold contract was up US$3.70 at US$1,807.80 an ounce and the March copper contract was up 1.65 cents at nearly US$4.49 a pound.

Small said the U.S. employment numbers Friday reinforced expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates in early March.

“I think the market can handle that, and I think the market will handle that. And we’ll see a positive year. It’s just going to be really, really choppy.”

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



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