S&P/TSX composite posts small gain Wednesday, U.S. stock markets also higher

TORONTO — Strength in battery metal and technology stocks helped outweigh softness in energy, lifting Canada's main stock index on Wednesday, while U.S. stock markets also rose.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 34.16 points at 20,057.89 after gaining more than 300 points on Tuesday.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 163.51 points at 34,991.21. The S&P 500 index was up 7.18 points at 4,502.88, while the Nasdaq composite was up 9.45 points at 14,103.84.

It was a “mildly positive day” for the markets, said Greg Taylor, chief investment officer at Purpose Investments.

“The fact that it's not that exciting — things are slightly up — is probably not a bad outcome,” he said.

“I think we'll take days like this where they’re a little quieter.”

Coming out of a tough couple of months for the markets in September and October, Taylor said there was much concern that “things were breaking” and it would lead to a financial crisis or recession.

But he said many “beaten-up sectors” have since rebounded.

“There was starting to be a fear creeping into the market in October that these higher (U.S. Treasury) yields are really going to have an impact on the consumer," he said.

"With that, we saw the fairly aggressive selling in the retailers and the REITs and some of the banks."

Taylor highlighted multiple positive developments in recent weeks that have driven the turnaround, namely, "yields pulling back, earnings coming in OK, and really the perception that the central banks are all done hiking and more belief that we're potentially on a good path for a soft landing."

Another key development that could inspire confidence was the U.S. Labor Department’s report Wednesday that its producer price index — which measures inflation before it hits consumers — dropped 0.5 per cent on a monthly basis in October.

It marked the measure's first decline since May and the biggest since April 2020.

On a year-over-year basis, producer prices rose 1.3 per cent from October 2022, down from 2.2 per cent in September and the smallest gain since July.

The report comes a day after the Labor Department reported its consumer price index was unchanged from September to October and up 3.2 per cent from a year earlier — the smallest year-over-year increase since June.

“That'll be another sign that inflation is starting to wane a little bit. Certainly the CPI falling off in the last reading earlier this week was positive news,” said Taylor.

“I think that again just lessens the chance that we're going to see any further rate hikes.”

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.13 cents US compared with 72.86 cents US on Tuesday.

The December crude oil contract was down US$1.60 at US$76.66 per barrel and the December natural gas contract was up eight cents at US$3.19 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was down US$2.20 at US$1,964.30 an ounce and the December copper contract was up four cents at US$3.72 a pound.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD)

Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press