TSX gains more than 100 points, U.S. stock markets rise to new records

The S&P TSX composite index screen at the TMX Market Centre in downtown Toronto is photographed on Friday, November 11, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin. TIJ

Canada’s main stock index gained more than 100 points Thursday, boosted by gains in energy stocks, while U.S. markets also rose.

The gains south of the border closed out February with more all-time highs for U.S. markets, with both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite notching new records.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 47.37 points at 38,996.39. The S&P 500 index was up 26.51 points at 5,096.27, while the Nasdaq composite was up 144.18 points at 16,091.92.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 119.84 points at 21,363.61.

Markets rose in reaction to the latest economic data in the U.S., said Ian Chong, portfolio manager for First Avenue Investment Counsel Inc.

The core PCE report, which is the U.S. Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation, came in line with expectations, said Chong.

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“There was some concern that it would be a little bit hot after some of the other data that came out,” he said, such as consumer inflation.

Higher growth than expected would have indicated a potential need to keep interest rates higher for longer, said Chong. Over the past couple of months, markets have already pared back expectations for cuts this year, coming in line with the three projected by the Fed.

But the central bank remains data dependent, said Chong.

“They’re ready to cut should the data continue to moderate lower,” he said, or at least remain consistent.

Despite the disappointment over hoped-for rate cuts as the year progresses, U.S. markets surged to new heights in February thanks to ongoing strength from the biggest tech names, most recently last week after Nvidia reported earnings.

But the sustained rally of the past few months has been somewhat narrow, noted Chong.

“Sentiment is still largely positive. There is a lot of cash sitting on the sidelines looking to get back to work,” he said.

In Canada, the latest GDP report showed the country did not dip into recession for the second half of 2023. But the growth for the fourth quarter was still “anemic,” said Chong.

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Though expectations for rate cuts are still very similar in the U.S. and Canada, the chatter over whether the Bank of Canada could cut first illustrates the differences between how the two economies are faring, he said.

“The U.S. economy is in a stronger position than the Canadian economy.”

TD and CIBC reported earnings Thursday, capping off the major bank reports this week that saw all players putting more money aside for bad loans.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.69 cents US compared with 73.67 cents US on Wednesday.

The April crude contract was down 28 cents at US$78.26 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was down three cents at US$1.86 per mmBTU.

The April gold contract was up US$12.00 at US$2,054.70 an ounce and the May copper contract was up one cent at US$3.85 a pound.

— With files from The Associated Press

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