Loonie soars, TSX up on higher commodities – Waterloo Chronicle

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TORONTO — The Canadian dollar surged more than two-thirds of a U.S. cent Wednesday against a lower greenback, while rising commodities helped push the Toronto stock market higher.

The loonie was up 0.70 of a U.S. cent to 75.14 cents U.S. as other currencies also rose against the U.S. dollar.

Like equity markets, the greenback has received a boost since the victory of American president-elect Donald Trump in early November, as well as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to hike interest rates on Dec. 14.

In addition to the rate increase, investors perceived the move by the central bank as hawkish after it also revised its plan for 2017. It forecasted there will be three more hikes this year rather than the originally anticipated two that it announced at its September meeting.

Norman Levine, managing director at Portfolio Management Corp., said the U.S. dollar is just taking a breather after hitting a 14-year high on Tuesday.

“It possibly went too far too fast,” he said, explaining there’s no reason behind the currency’s weakness. “Nothing goes straight up.”

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index advanced for a second day in a row, climbing 113.72 points to 15,516.75, as metals and industrials stocks pushed higher.

On the corporate front, Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) says it expects its profit margin this year will be 25 per cent higher than it had projected in October. Shares in the Calgary-based oil and gas company climbed more than seven per cent, or $1.16, to close at $17.22.

South of the border, New York stock markets rose as retail and auto stocks gained. The Dow Jones industrial average added 60.40 points to 19,942.16 and the Nasdaq composite climbed 47.93 points to 5,477.01.

The S&P 500 rose 12.92 points to 2,270.75, just shy of its record closing level of 2,271.72 set on Dec. 13.

Levine anticipates markets will continue to climb into 2017.

“You got all the naysayers who say stocks are at a peak here and due to go down, maybe temporarily,” he said. “But if economic numbers do come in better than expected, that means corporate profits will come in better and that’s good for stock prices.

“While I wouldn’t be surprised or upset with a correction, I still believe there is still further upside in the stock market.”

In economic news, the Fed also released minutes from its last rate policy meeting from Dec. 13-14.

In the notes, Federal Reserve officials said they are open to accelerating future rate hikes to fight inflation and if a strong growing economy pushes the unemployment rate to fall faster than previously anticipated.

Although the central bank didn’t name Trump, it noted that new government policies have increased uncertainty about the country’s economic outlook.

Most commodities were higher, as the February crude contract jumped 93 cents to US$53.26 per barrel, while the February gold contract rose $3.30 to US$1,165.30 an ounce. March copper contracts gained seven cents at US$2.56 a pound.

February natural gas shed losses for a fourth straight day, down six cents to $3.27 per mmBTU.

— With files from The Associated Press

Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.

By Linda Nguyen, The Canadian Press