North American stock markets recover from early losses on U.S. debt ceiling progress

·3 min read

TORONTO — North American stock markets recovered from early losses on signs of a potential extension to the U.S. debt ceiling deadline.

The day started weak with futures down about two per cent following declines on European markets.

But the situation turned around after reports that Republicans may offer a short debt-ceiling extension. Private ADP payrolls numbers were also stronger than expected.

"This is really October living up to the volatility we've come to expect," said Greg Taylor, chief investment officer of Purpose Investments. "We're already starting to see one per cent moves in markets almost every day, which seems to be becoming the standard,"

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 8.23 points to 20,191.66 after losing as much as 169.16 points.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 102.32 points at 34,416.99. The S&P 500 index was up 17.83 points at 4,363.55, while the Nasdaq composite was up 68.08 points at 14,501.91.

"It just does feel like there's still going to be some volatility here and I don't think we're out of the woods yet," he said in an interview.

Technology led the TSX, gaining one per cent to reverse recent losses as shares of Nuvei Corp. climbed 5.1 per cent and Shopify Inc. rose 2.6 per cent.

Materials was higher as gold prices increased with shares of Equinox Gold Corp gaining 6.3 per cent.

The December gold contract was up 90 cents at US$1,761.80 an ounce and the December copper contract was down 4.5 cents at nearly US$4.15 a pound.

The hot energy sector was the biggest laggard, losing 2.2 per cent as stocks fell while energy prices were off their recent seven-year highs.

The November crude contract was down US$1.50 at US$77.43 per barrel after peaking at US$79.78 and the November natural gas contract was down 63.7 cents at US$5.68 per mmBTU after reaching a high of US$6.47.

Taylor believes some of the price softness comes from investors crystallizing profits following a strong run by the energy sector with crude oil prices rising nearly 63 per cent and natural gas even stronger so far in 2021.

"The Canadian energy stocks, which really have had a massive year, are all down right now and it feels to me that that's more of a profit-taking (situation) because a lot of these stocks have just had tremendous runs year-to-date."

Shares of Tourmaline Oil Corp. was were down 4.9 per cent on the day but up 254 per cent year-to-date. Vermilion Energy Inc. lost 4.8 per cent on Wednesday but is up 240 per cent in 2021.

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.28 cents US compared with 79.52 cents US on Tuesday.

Investors will be watching closely for September employment numbers in Canada and the U.S. on Friday. However, the U.S. private payroll number increased by 568,000 jobs last month, potentially signalling a good number later this week.

"It just goes to show that the U.S. economy seems to be doing OK, and I think that's a pretty big positive that will keep people going," said Taylor.

"But it does feed into the threat of taper and higher bond yields, which has really been the thing that markets have been worried about."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:VET, TSX:TOU, TSX:SHOP, TSX:NVEI, TSX:GIL, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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