North American stock markets rally from early losses but end day mostly lower

·4 min read

TORONTO — The rocky start to the year continued on Monday as North American stock markets mostly fell but improved as the day wore on.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 12.13 points to 21,072.32 after hitting an intraday low of 20,790.89.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 162.79 points at 36,068.87 and the S&P 500 index was down 6.74 points at 4,670.29 for a fifth straight day of losses. The Nasdaq composite was up 6.93 points at 14,942.83 for its first gain after four days of losses.

After starting weaker in morning trading, markets moved steadily higher until closing.

"Either the selling pressure is easing off a little bit, or the bargain hunters are finally coming in," said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.

Markets have struggled amid a lack of economic news since the Federal Reserve released minutes from its December meeting last week that pointed to potentially more aggressive action to cut stimulus and raise interest rates.

The sentiment continued early Monday with U.S. 10-year bond yields rising above 1.8 per cent for the first time since early 2020 before dipping later in the day.

Cieszynski said the early increase suggested markets are expecting more interest rate hikes this year. In fact, Goldman Sachs said Monday it anticipates four increases.

"I don't think they're going to start going half a per cent, but they can easily start going like a quarter per cent every quarter like they did in the past," he said in an interview.

"So if they did four, they could start in March or April and then do one per quarter through the end of the year. That's certainly reasonable."

Markets will be watching for any signals on Tuesday when Jerome Powell testifies at his renomination hearing as Fed chairman.

"Investors are fixating more on central banks and what the Fed might do, kind of picking up from where we left off last week," Cieszynski said.

Consumer price data, retail sales numbers and the nomination hearing for vice chair Lael Brainard will follow this week before the first quarterly earnings results from U.S. banks are released on Friday.

Markets have tempered their expectations for this earnings season and are waiting for any signals about the impact from the Omicron variant and supply chain issues.

"I would say people are probably not overly enthusiastic but let's say not euphoric about earnings at this point," he said. "The way that the markets have come off suggests that investors are recognizing that there is a possibility for some disappointments out there."

While there have been few earnings warnings, Lululemon Athletica Inc. lowered its fourth-quarter earnings estimates Monday as the Omicron variant curbed the retailer's sales.

Cieszynski said that could be a significant barometer about holiday season results ahead of U.S. retail sales numbers.

Industrials was the weakest sector on the TSX, while technology also ended lower but rallied. Shares of Shopify Inc. continued to lose ground.

Health care led the TSX as shares of Tilray Inc. surged 13.5 per cent after the cannabis producer reported a profit in its latest quarter as revenues increased about 20 per cent.

Materials was up 1.6 per cent despite lower gold prices with shares of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. up 4.2 per cent.

The February gold contract was down US$1.40 at US$1,798.80 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 5.8 cents at US$4.35 a pound.

Despite a dip in crude oil prices, the energy sector was higher with Birchcliff Energy Ltd. up four per cent.

The February crude oil contract was down 67 cents at US$78.23 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was up 16.3 cents at US$4.08 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.87 cents US compared with 78.95 cents US on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:BIR, TSX:IVN, TSX:SHOP; TSX:TLRY, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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