North American markets enjoyed a broad-based rally Friday, bolstered by two encouraging U.S. inflation reports earlier in the week and a lack of any other major economic news on the day to offset them.
With a near-total absence of market-moving events on what was a quiet day heading into a summer weekend, the S&P/TSX composite index still gained 187.93 points to close at 20,179.81.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 424.38 points at 33,761.05. The S&P 500 index closed up 72.88 points at 4,280.15, while the Nasdaq composite gained 267.28 points to close at 13,047.19.
“There has hardly been any news today, so this seems to be primarily momentum trading,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management. “The TSX has had a very good week, the U.S. market has had a very good week, and investors continue to come back into the market.”
The S&P/TSX composite has been on the upswing since the release earlier this week of U.S. consumer inflation data for the month of July. Both that report, and a subsequent one on U.S. wholesale inflation, showed month-over-month declines in the inflation rate and investors appear to be taking that as an indication that the most significant increases in the cost of living have already peaked.
In fact, Cieszynski said equities markets appear to now be banking on the premise that central banks are poised to slow or halt interest rate increases entirely. He said that’s somewhat odd, given that inflation remains far above central banks’ target rate and central bankers themselves haven’t made any public comments indicating they are willing to ease off their efforts to slow down the overheated economy.
“So in many ways this rally seems to have taken on a life of its own. Even when we have negative news, the markets don’t seem to respond to that at all,” Cieszynski said. “It just seems to be a relief rally that continues to extend.”
While equity markets were full speed ahead on Friday, there was some weakness on the commodities side. The September crude contract was down US$2.25 at US$92.09 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was down 11 cents at US$8.77.
The S&P/TSX’s relatively high weighting of energy stocks is the main reason the index lagged somewhat behind U.S. markets Friday, Cieszynski said, although even the Canadian energy sector managed to end the day in modest positive territory against the backdrop of the broader-based rally.
The December gold contract was up $8.30 at US$1,815.50 an ounce and the September copper contract was down almost four cents at US$3.67 a pound.
The Canadian dollar traded for 78.23 cents US compared with 78.41 cents US on Thursday.
While Friday was relatively uneventful, next week is expected to be a busy one with retail numbers expected from Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and China, Cieszynski. Earnings from major U.S. retailers including Walmart and Home Depot are also expected.
July housing market reports for both Canada and the U.S. are also set to be released next week.
Statistics Canada is scheduled to release its July inflation report for this country on Aug. 16 ahead of the Bank of Canada’s next rate decision set for Sept. 7. Analysts believe the Bank of Canada will then be deciding between a half of a percentage point hike or a three quarters of a percentage point hike.