TORONTO — A broad rally led by the energy sector pushed Canada's main stock index higher for a second-straight session after six days of losses.
Angelo Kourkafas, investment strategist at Edward Jones, says sentiment has stabilized after Friday's rally which followed a deep selloff.
"Today, in the absence of any major catalysts we think markets are trying to find some support, but they're doing so in a cautious way," he said in an interview.
Defensive sectors such as consumer staples and utilities benefited, along with energy because oil prices rallied, while technology continued to underperform.
"So really, investors are sticking to what's been working so far this year."
The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 106.60 points to 20,206.41 after dropping to a low of 20,064.76 in early trading.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 26.76 points at 32,223.42. The S&P 500 index was down 15.88 points at 4,008.01, while the Nasdaq composite was down 142.21 points at 11,662.79.
Bond yields softened on worries of slowing global economies, with overnight Chinese data showing that April retail sales plunged 11.1 per cent from the prior year due to COVID-19 lockdowns in various cities, while industrial output fell 2.9 per cent.
Central bank interest rate hikes in Canada and the U.S. are already priced in for markets and there's been no new catalyst to change expectations, Kourkafas said.
He said there is some concern about stagflation that comes with persistent pricing pressures while economic growth slows to a halt.
"Our base case is that the economy can still avoid the recession. To have stagflation we would need to see flat, zero or negative growth, which at least for the next 12 months it's not our base case scenario."
Kourkafas said while markets are getting close to a bottom, it might not be there yet.
"We think that it will likely take greater clarity on inflation for the markets to find a durable bottom."
Unlike the past in which investors were conditioned to buy pullbacks in anticipation of a very sharp and brief rebound to new all-time highs, the situation is different because of central bank actions.
"The Bank of Canada and the Fed are on a mission to tame inflation and they're going to be less sensitive to either market volatility or some growth concerns that might persist in the short-term."
Energy climbed 2.5 per cent as oil prices hitting a near two-month high allowed the TSX to outperform U.S. counterparts.
The June crude contract was up US$3.71 at US$114.20 per barrel and the June natural gas contract was up 29.3 cents at US$7.96 per mmBTU.
Vermilion Energy Inc. gained 5.4 per cent while Baytex Energy Corp. was up 5.3 per cent.
The 3.4 per cent climb in crude prices was supported by optimism of demand recovery in China with some pandemic trends improving or at least not worsening in hot spots like Shanghai, and for lockdowns to gradually be lifted.
Also supporting higher crude prices are moves by the European Union to negotiate a ban on Russian oil over the invasion of Ukraine and OPEC plus Russia deciding to only slowly add supply.
The Canadian dollar traded for 77.59 cents US, compared with 77.20 cents US on Friday.
Telecommunications increased 1.3 per cent on gains from Quebecor Inc. while health care rose 0.9 per cent with Tilray Inc. up 6.6 per cent.
Materials was up 1.1 per cent as metals prices were higher.
The June gold contract was up US$5.80 at US$1,814.00 an ounce and the July copper contract was up 1.65 cents at US$4.19 a pound.
The technology sector was the day's biggest laggard. It lost 2.4 per cent with Shopify Inc. down 11.0 per cent and Hut 8 Mining Corp. and Lightspeed Commerce Inc. off 9.4 and 7.9 per cent, respectively.
Technology continues to be a victim of the removal of liquidity as central banks pursue an aggressive tightening cycle, said Kourkafas.
"Sectors that are more growth oriented and traded higher valuations, higher multiples are the most vulnerable," he said. "Investors are sticking to what's been working so far, and avoiding what hasn't, and tech has been one of the areas that's been underperforming this year and today."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2022.
Companies in this story: (TSX:SHOP, TSX:LSPD, TSX:HUT, TSX:VET, TSX:BTE, TSX:TLRY, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press