Economy & Markets

Dow Jones cruises past 23,000 record

By David Hodges |
Source: The Canadian Press

Canada's main stock index lost ground Wednesday while U.S. stock markets hit new records with the Dow Jones sailing past the 23,000 mark.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 160.16 points to 23,157.60. The S&P 500 index added 1.90 points to 2,561.26 and the Nasdaq composite index eked out 0.56 of point to 6,624.22.

"In the last few weeks, or more recently, U.S. equity markets are climbing higher obviously on renewed hope for tax reform in the U.S. and strong economic tailwinds as well," said Candice Bangsund, vice-president and portfolio manager at Fiera Capital.

Technology stocks and financial companies led gainers on Wall Street as investors weighed the latest batch of company earning news. IBM surged on strong quarterly results and is on track to post its biggest one-day gain since 2009.

North of the border, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 34.74 points to 15,782.16, with base metals, gold, materials and energy leading key decliners.

"The Canadian equity market is really a play not on the domestic economy but on global growth — so commodities, higher interest rates," said Bangsund.

"Between commodities and financials you've got two-thirds of the benchmark right there. In our view the TSX is going to catch up to the U.S. equity market, particularly if commodity prices rise and interest rates continue to rise as we expect."

In currency markets, the Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of US80.09¢, up 0.40 of a cent — its first upward movement in three consecutive trading sessions.

Bangsund attributed the loonie's strengthening to Tuesday's announcement that NAFTA talks are being extended into 2018 from its year-end deadline after tensions at the negotiating table exploded into public view.

"That's caused a little bit of relief, particularly on the currency side," she said. "I think that the markets are interpreting that the threat of an imminent collapse in the agreement or dismantling of NAFTA altogether has been diffused."

In commodities news, the December crude contract was up US15¢ to US$52.26 per barrel and the November natural gas contract was down US11¢ at US$2.85 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was down US$3.20 to US$1,283.00 an ounce and the December copper contract was down US2¢ to US$3.18 a pound.