Canada’s main stock index reached its highest level in four months following a surge on cannabis stocks.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 96.01 points at 15,602.32 after hitting an intraday peak of 15,606.34. That’s the highest level since Oct. 8.
“The recent rally in the health-care sector, particularly the pot stocks, is providing a big portion of the lift for the TSX,” said Craig Fehr, a Canadian market strategist for Edward Jones.
The health care sector gained 5% on the day led by cannabis heavyweights Aphria Inc. which rose by nearly 13%, Cronos Group Inc. 12% and Aurora Cannabis 8.8% on heavy trading.
Technology was up 1.6% to follow the direction of the U.S. sector. Energy was up more than 1% despite a dip in crude oil prices.
North American markets have been driven higher by an improved outlook for economic growth, higher corporate profits, dovish monetary policy, particularly on interest rate hikes, and hope that a US-China trade skirmish will be resolved.
US corporate profits have set a positive tone even though they are a bit more mixed than a year ago. Alphabet Inc. beat analyst expectations in reporting after markets closed that it earned US$8.95 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss a year earlier. Net revenues after deducting advertising commissions were US$31.84 billion.
“We’re getting some relief in the market as earnings announcements have come in that show that corporate America–and I think as we start to see TSX reports, corporate Canada as well–is a little bit healthier than perhaps was the expectation as we went through that decline in late 2018,” said Fehr.
The Canadian corporate profit outlook is “decent” even though the TSX doesn’t have the balance across industries and sectors like the US does, he added.
“So we can see quarter to quarter things can be a bit distorted, but I think the corporate profit outlook is still more positive than negative at this stage for the TSX,” Fehr concluded.