Economy & Markets

U.S. markets climb to new record highs

By Alexandra Posadzki |
Source: The Canadian Press

Canada's main stock index finished in the red Friday, with most segments lower, a day after coming close to setting an all-time high.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 90.53 points at 15,496.05, with gold and materials stocks leading the fairly broad-based decline.

The global gold sector of the TSX slipped 3.67%, while materials stocks declined 2.85%.

The only segments that closed higher were real estate, up 0.18%, and consumer discretionary stocks, up 0.12%.

The current S&P/TSX record high close is 15,657.63, which was set on Sept. 3, 2014. The market approached that level on Thursday, hitting 15,621.40 at the intraday high before closing at 15,586.58.

Friday's decline came as Statistics Canada reported that the labour force added 153,700 net new part-time jobs last year and 60,400 full-time positions.

The Canadian dollar was at US75.57¢, up 0.05 of a U.S. cent from Thursday's close.

South of the border, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 64.51 points to 19,963.80 while the S&P 500 rose 7.98 points to 2,276.98, a new record high.

The Nasdaq composite also hit a new record, advancing 33.12 points to 5,521.06.

"It's a continuation of the Trump effect," said Kash Pashootan, a portfolio manager at First Avenue Advisory, a Raymond James company.

"The optimism is clearly present in the markets. You have a combination of high expectations of what Trump will do from a policy loosening perspective, combined with the fact that investors don't have much choice of where to put their money. With interest rates at such low levels, dividend paying stocks look attractive."

In economic news, the U.S. Labor Department reported that the economy added 156,000 jobs in December, while hourly pay climbed 2.9% compared to December 2015 — the largest monthly increase in seven years.

Overall, U.S. job growth was steady last year but slowed slightly compared to 2015.

In commodities, the February crude contract added US23¢ to US$53.99 per barrel and February natural gas was up US1¢ at US$3.29 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract fell US$7.90 to US$1,173.40 an ounce and March copper was up US1¢ at US$2.55 a pound.

"For gold, it's going to continue to be a tug-of-war between a flight to safety and a rise in interest rates," Pashootan said.

"Because as we know, interest rates have an inverse relationship generally to gold prices, and you've seen a real pressure on gold prices as there's been more and more conviction built around rising rates in the U.S."

With files from the Associated Press