Markets Stretch Ever Higher

Norbord, Aurora in Focus

Equity markets in Toronto hit yet another all-time high on Friday, tracking gains in global equities, as upbeat Chinese economic data pointed to signs of stabilization in the world's second-largest economy.

The TSX Composite Index gathered 61.83 points to break for lunch Friday at 17,546

The Canadian dollar demurred 0.18 cents to 76.50 cents U.S.

The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Norbord, which jumped $3.04, or 8.2%, to $40.00, followed by shares of Interfor, which rose $1.08, or 7.4%, to $15.60

Hexo fell 19 cents, or 8.2%, the most on the TSX, to $2.12, followed by shares of Aurora Cannabis, down seven cents, or 2.5%, to $2.72.

On the economic slate, Statistics Canada reported that Canadian investors increased their holdings in foreign securities to $5.5 billion in November as Canadian investors resumed their purchases of foreign equities.

At the same time, foreign investors reduced their holdings of Canadian securities by $1.8 billion, the first decline in four months

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange gained 0.65 points to 583.76

All but two of the 12 TSX subgroups were still buoyant, primarily utilities, up 0.8%, while information technology and consumer discretionary stocks gained 0.7%.

The two laggards were energy, which faded 0.8%, while gold was off 0.1%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks were little changed on Friday after hitting record highs as Wall Street wrapped up a solid weekly performance amid strong global economic data and a solid start to the earnings season.

The Dow Jones Industrials cut earlier gains, but were still up 31.99 points to 29,329.63

The S&P 500 gained 6.99 points to 3,323.77

The NASDAQ remained afloat 5.01 points to 9,362.07

For the week, however, the Dow and S&P 500 were up more than 1.5% each while the NASDAQ headed for a 1.9% gain.

Thus far, Wall Street is building on its strong performance from 2019. The S&P 500 is up around 3% year to date along with the Dow. The NASDAQ, meanwhile, has already climbed more than 4%.

Schlumberger reported Friday quarterly earnings that beat analyst expectations, sending the stock up slightly. CSX’s earnings also beat expectations, but the stock slid more than 1%.

Big banks such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley all reported quarterly figures that exceeded estimate earlier this week.

Corporate earnings have also been better than expected to start off the reporting period. More than 8% of the S&P 500 has reported quarterly results thus far. Of those companies, 72% gave posted better-than-expected earnings.

Chinese industrial data for December came in better than expected, with production rising 6.9% on a year-over-year basis. The overall Chinese economy grew by 6.1% in 2019, matching expectations. To be sure, that is also the slowest growth rate for the Chinese economy since 1990.

In the U.S., housing starts soared nearly 17% in December and reached a 13-year high. That data follows Thursday’s release of better-than-forecast weekly jobless claims and strong business activity numbers from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.

Prices for the 10-Year U.S. Treasury lost ground, raising yields to 1.83% from Wednesday’s 1.81%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices fell four cents to $58.48 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices gained $7.90 to $1,558.40 U.S. an ounce.