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S&P/TSX composite posts late-day rally to record high ahead of Fed meeting

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index shrugged off some early weakness to rally to a record close ahead of a two-day meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve, where rising inflation is expected to be front and centre.

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index shrugged off some early weakness to rally to a record close ahead of a two-day meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve, where rising inflation is expected to be front and centre. 

Inflation continues to be top-of-mind as investors look for any signals that the central bank might shift its stance that higher inflation is only temporary and move up the winding down of bond purchases.

"I think the markets largely expect the Fed to come out and dig in its heels on the transitory view and express a view that it's going to maintain policy for awhile longer this year and that the taper is still further off this year," said Craig Fehr, investment strategist, Edward Jones. 

Analysts will be looking for additional colour about whether Fed members have any meaningful conversations about tapering its stimulus measures, although no action is expected until later this year and interest rates aren't likely to rise before 2023.

"Any signal from the Fed that they plan to taper earlier or that they're having more aggressive conversations around tapering is likely to induce a little bit of volatility," he said in an interview.

"It's really a talking about talking about tapering period that we're going to be in for awhile longer."

Stocks markets opened flat but moved lower after a New York Fed survey showed that consumer expectations for inflation are at the highest level on record for that survey. They rebounded near the end of trading.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 19.30 points to 20,157.65 after reaching a high of 20,163.49.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 85.85 points at 34,393.75. The S&P 500 index was up 7.71 points at 4,255.15, while the Nasdaq composite was up 104.72 points at 14,174.14. 

Technology was one of four sectors that were up on the day, along with utilities, industrials and consumer staples.

Tech rose 2.2 per cent as shares of Kinaxis Inc. climbed 7.3 per cent and Hut 8 Mining Corp. was 6.7 per cent higher. Lightspeed POS Inc. gained 5.2 per cent and Shopify Inc. was up 4.5 per cent.

Health care was the biggest laggard, losing 2.2 per cent as Tilray Inc. shares dropped 3.9 per cent.

Consumer discretionary was down 1.8 per cent while materials lost 0.9 per cent point on lower gold and copper prices.

The August gold contract was down US$13.70 at US$1,865.90 an ounce and the July copper contract was down 1.05 cents at nearly US$4.53 a pound. 

Shares of Lithium Americas Corp. were down eight per cent, while Endeavour Mining Corp. was 4.5 per cent lower.

Energy was marginally lower as crude prices dipped as the market tried to assess production moves amid growing demand as the economy rebounds, said Fehr.

"We've just seen a bit of a wishy-washy reaction in crude prices as the market tries to digest the global recovery alongside the prospects we could see some higher production rates as these higher prices will inevitably draw out some additional supply."

The July crude contract was down three cents at US$70.88 per barrel and the July natural gas contract was up 5.6 cents at US$3.35 per mmBTU. 

The Canadian dollar traded for 82.36 cents US compared with 82.32 cents US on Friday. 

Earlier, Statistics Canada reported that manufacturing sales fell 2.1 per cent to $57.1 billion in April as the auto industry was hurt by a continued shortage of semiconductor chips that prompted companies to halt or slow production. 

The data was not surprising because the Canadian economy has been going through a soft patch during lockdowns, said Fehr.

"We're taking some of this incoming lagged economic data with a grain of salt because we do believe economic activity is going to rebound meaningfully as some of these restrictions start to fade and wear off."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2021. 


Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press