Stocks Zoom as Energy Prices Boost Oil Issues

Cenovus, Natural Resources Among Stars

Canada's main stock index rose 2% on Tuesday, as a jump in oil prices boosted energy stocks after the United States and Russia agreed to talks aimed at stabilizing the industry.

The TSX Composite Index popped 467.26 points, or 3.6%, by noon EDT, to 13,505.76.

The Canadian dollar recovered from an early clobbering, inching ahead 0.04 cents to 70.62 cents U.S.

Still, Canada's main index is down 18% so far in March, set to post its worst month since August 1998.

A sharp fall in gold prices kept a lid on the sector's gains as the dollar strengthened and strong Chinese economic data boosted risk appetite.

Also lifting the mood, Ottawa said it will waive ground lease rents for airports until December 2020, providing relief worth $331.4 million to help the air transport sector deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The news helped shares of Air Canada rise 40 cents, or 2.5%, to $16.48.

The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were shares of oil producer Cenovus Energy, which jumped 52 cents, or 21.6%, to $2.93, followed by bigger rival Canadian Natural Resources, which rose $3.44, or 22.1%, to $19.20.

Cronos Group Inc fell 66 cents, or 7.3%, the most on the TSX, to $8.36.

Economically speaking, Statistics Canada reported this morning that real gross domestic product edged up 0.1% in January, with 12 of the 20 sectors increasing.

The agency’s Industrial Product Price Index was down 0.5% in February, driven primarily by lower prices for refined petroleum products.
The Raw Materials Price Index fell 4.7%, mostly due to lower prices for crude oil.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange gained 5.58 points, or 1.4%, to 392.13

All 12 TSX subgroups gained ground, with energy leaping 17.1%, utilities hiking 4.3%, and health-care picking up 3.4%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks rebounded on Tuesday, the last day of the first quarter, as investors wrapped up a period of historic market volatility sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrials regained 66.98 points to 22,394.46. The index increased for the fifth day in six, easing the losses of what’s shaping up to be its worst first quarter ever.

The Dow is now up 20% from its coronavirus selloff low reached on March 23 while the S&P 500 has risen more than 17% from those levels.

The broader S&P 500 gained 3.09 points to 2,629.74.

The NASDAQ added 38.34 points to 7,812.50. Shares of big tech stocks rose, including Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.

Despite the recent comeback, the market is on pace to end the month and quarter with big losses.

The Dow is down 12% in March, on pace for its worst month since October 2008.

The S&P 500 is down 11% in March, also on pace for its worst month since 2008.

The Dow is down 21.8% this quarter, on track for its worst quarter since 1987 and its worst first quarter ever.

The S&P 500 is off 18.7% this quarter, on track for its worst quarter since 2008 and its worst first quarter since 1938.

Many on Wall Street are calling for even more selling before the market can hit a bottom. Historically, bear markets are often punctuated by sharp bounces on their way down to a trough.

The market pared losses in morning trading after data showed U.S. consumer confidence dropped less than expected in March. The Conference Board said Tuesday its consumer confidence index dropped to 120 this month from 132.6 in February, beating expectations of 110, according to Dow Jones.

The Chicago PMI came in at 47.8 for March, well above estimates of 39, but still signaled a contraction in business activity.

Goldman Sachs is also expecting a sharp rise in the U.S. unemployment rate. The bank said it sees unemployment reaching 15% along with a 34% GDP contraction. However, Goldman expects that decline to be followed by the fastest recovery in history.

Investors continued to grapple with the worsening outbreak in the U.S., as the confirmed cases rose to more than 153,200, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has also officially become the country most affected. Trump said Sunday he hopes the country will "be well on our way to recovery" by June 1.

Prices for the 10-Year U.S. Treasury eked forward, lowering yields to 0.68% from Monday’s 0.71%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices grabbed 33 cents to $20.42 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices subsided $20.30 to $1,622.90 U.S. an ounce.