Canada’s main stock index edged downwards and U.S. markets ticked slightly higher on what was overall a quiet day of trading Thursday.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 4.03 points at 19,969.19.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 183.56 points at 33,781.48. The S&P 500 index was up 29.59 points at 3,963.51, while the Nasdaq composite was up 123.45 points at 11,082.
“It’s been a flat week,” said Ashish Utarid, assistant vice-president for investment strategy with IG Wealth Management, adding he believes the lull is setting the tone for what should be a quiet remainder of the year for investors.
“We’ve had lots of data that’s come out in the last few weeks, and after American Thanksgiving you tend to have lower activity for the rest of the year,” Utarid said.
“So I don’t expect there to be a ton of volatility to finish off the year.”
On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada announced it would hike its key interest rate to 4.25 per cent — the highest it’s been since January 2008. But the move didn’t have a significant impact on markets, even though previous rate hikes have spooked investors fearful that central bankers could go too far and tip the economy into recession.
The Bank of Canada has raised its key interest rate seven consecutive times since March in an effort to bring inflation down and slow the economy, but Utarid said markets appear to have already absorbed the latest rate hike.
“All of the bad news has been worked into the economy by now,” Utarid said, adding IG Wealth Management’s 2023 outlook is calling for a more positive year ahead for both equity and fixed-income markets, based on the assumption that interest rates have peaked and inflation will gradually begin to come down.
“We’re hoping to see some optimism in 2023,” he said.
“Yes, it might be rough in the beginning, and the recession risk is still there, but the equities markets are very optimistic looking to the next 12 to 18 months,” he said.
The Canadian dollar traded for 73.63 cents US compared with 73.31 cents US on Wednesday.
Crude prices jumped briefly Thursday morning on news that TC Energy Corp. has shut down its Keystone Pipeline, which stretches 4,324 kilometres and helps move Canadian and U.S. crude oil to markets around North America, due to an oil leak in Kansas.
However, TC Energy has not indicated how much oil was spilled or how long the pipeline system is expected to be down, and crude markets settled relatively quickly.
The January crude contract was down 55 cents at US$71.46 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up 24 cents at US$5.96 per mmBTU.
The S&P/TSX capped energy index closed down 0.64 per cent.
Also making news on Thursday was an announcement from Canada’s financial regulator that it is raising the amount of capital major banks need to have on hand over concerns of high household debt levels and other systemic vulnerabilities.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions said the domestic stability buffer will go up by half a percentage point to three per cent as of Feb. 1, 2023.
“I think that’s a really interesting story, but the financial markets haven’t moved negatively with that news,” Utarid said, adding the S&P/TSX capped financials index was relatively unchanged Thursday, closing down just 0.21 per cent.
“I think they were probably expecting it.”
The February gold contract was up US$3.50 at US$1,801.50 an ounce and the March copper contract was up two cents at US$3.88 a pound.