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North American stock markets stage strong comebacks from steep morning losses

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TORONTO — Canada's main stock index posted its first gain in six days as it joined U.S. markets in staging comebacks from steep morning losses for a second day in a row.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 19.68 points to 20,590.98 on Tuesday after losing more than 400 points in early trading. 

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 66.77 points at 34,297.73 after being down more than 800 points. 

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 315.83 points at 13,539.30, while the S&P 500 index was down 53.68 points at 4,356.45. Both closed up from their morning lows when they were in correction territory and off more than 10 per cent from their recent highs. The S&P ended the day down 9.6 per cent from its peak while Nasdaq is off 16.5 per cent.

"Volatility continues to grip the marketplace and has shown little in the way of subsiding," said Candice Bangsund, portfolio manager for Fiera Capital. 

The trading came ahead of central bank interest rate decisions Wednesday in Canada and the U.S. with investors "contemplating the prospect for an accelerated path to policy normalization that has sent bond yields soaring and weighed on stock markets," she wrote in an email.

U.S. 10-year treasuries reached 1.781 per cent, which benefited financial sectors in both countries, but hurt technology.

The heavyweight banking sector moved higher on the TSX with shares of Bank of Montreal and Laurentian Bank up 1.6 and 1.5 per cent, respectively.

Energy led the gains in Toronto, rising 3.6 per cent as higher crude oil prices powered Baytex Energy Corp. up 6.7 per cent and Vermilion Energy Inc. 5.8 per cent higher.

"Despite the fragile mood in the marketplace, crude oil prices resumed their powerful rally and traded near US$85 per barrel, with a solid outlook for global energy demand underpinning prices," Bangsund said. 

The March crude oil contract was up US$2.29 at US$85.60 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was up 1.9 cents at US$3.89 per mmBTU. 

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.18 cents US compared with 79.01 cents US on Monday. 

Geopolitical risks stemming from a potential Russian incursion in Ukraine and fourth-quarter results that sometimes missed expectations have added to the "wall of worry for investors," she added.

Of the 68 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported fourth-quarter results so far, 19.1 per cent have missed analysts’ earnings-per-share estimates, compared with 14.2 per cent in the third quarter. 

Materials was higher as gold prices rose as recent volatility helped to "buttress demand for the safe-haven metals." 

The February gold contract was up US$10.80 at US$1,852.50 an ounce and the March copper contract was up 3.8 cents at US$4.45 a pound. 

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. shone Tuesday as its shares surged 15.6 per cent on updates about the future of its mine in Mongolia.

Technology was the biggest laggard, losing 3.0 per cent on the TSX with Shopify Inc. down 4.9 per cent and Lightspeed Commerce Inc. off 4.0 per cent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2022. 

Companies in this story: (TSX:SHOP, TSX:LSPD, TSX:TRQ, TSX:BTE, TSX:VET, TSX:BMO, TSX:LB, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) 

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press