BUSINESS

Traders look to TSX to build on gains after hitting 28-month high

10/20/2013 06:00 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
TORONTO - Traders will be anxious to see this week if the Toronto stock market can carry on the steady gains racked up during October that took the TSX to its highest levels in more than two years.

Investors will also look to the Bank of Canada's latest interest rate announcement and what is expected to be a steady flow of economic reports that were postponed because of the lengthy partial U.S. government shutdown.

The stars seem to be finally aligning for the Toronto Stock Exchange, which closed above 13,000 last week for the first time since late July 2011, a sign that the resource-heavy market is perhaps bouncing back after suffering through falling commodity prices, the European Union debt crisis and a slowing in the Chinese economy.

"Canada is always a late cycle market because of the resource domination," observed Wes Mills, chief investment officer at Scotia Asset Management PM Advisor Services.

"So, as the global economy continues to improve, Canada will start showing up more on people’s radar."

A variety of indicators bode well for the TSX, including a sharp decline in the price differential between West Texas Intermediate crude and Brent crude, along with data last week that showed the Chinese economy rebounded in the latest quarter to 7.8 per cent from a two-decade low of 7.5 per cent in the second quarter. Also, the European Union is also offering signs of clawing its way out of a deep malaise.

Mills said that global growth is improving, with the signs expecting to continue into 2014.

But it's not just resource stocks that have propelled the Toronto exchange to a point where it is up 5.65 per cent year-to-date.

The other major pillar, financials, is up 15 per cent year-to-date and more than three per cent for October alone.

"The financials were held back a good part of the year... on views that the housing market was too expensive, going to roll over and there was excessive credit risk in the banks," said Mills.

"(But) the housing market has done quite well. So financials have picked up and of course insurance was always picking up as the market was doing better and interest rates were backing up a little bit."

Gold miners continue to be the biggest weight on the TSX with the exchange's Global Gold sector down 44 per cent year-to-date and down 12.6 per cent this month alone. Bullion prices are down 20 per cent from the start of the year.

But Mills added that key technical indicators suggest that the TSX could run up to test the 14,000-level. That's still a long way from the all-time high of 15,073 that was registered in mid-June 2008, a couple of months before the collapse of Lehman Bros. triggered the financial collapse.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada is widely expected to leave its key rate unchanged at one per cent on Wednesday with most analysts thinking it will be far into 2014 before the central bank feels it can lift rates to more historic norms.

"We’re now officially pushing it back to the fourth quarter of next year," said BMO Capital Markets chief economist Doug Porter.

But as always, economists will be looking to see what the bank thinks about current economic conditions.

"October is the monetary policy report where they always give their estimate of potential growth, that’s the one thing economists will be watching," said Porter.

"In terms of the forecast, I think they will shade it a little bit lower, nothing dramatic but I think they will nip and tuck it a bit."

This week will also see the first release of what will likely be a flood of U.S. economic data that was held up during the government shutdown. That ended last week after U.S. lawmakers arrived at a deal that also saw the debt ceiling increased to early February.

The key release of the week is the U.S. Labor Department's non-farm payrolls report for September. Economists expect that it will show that about 180,000 jobs were created during that month.