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S&P/TSX composite rises, U.S. stock markets also gain after strong GDP report

TORONTO — Strength in energy and utilities helped Canada's main stock index post a modest gain Thursday, while U.S. markets also moved higher following a stronger-than-expected GDP report.

The U.S. economy grew 3.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2023, as consumers remained resilient despite higher interest rates.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 75.76 points at 21,101.54.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 242.74 points at 38,049.13. The S&P 500 index was up 25.61 points at 4,894.16, while the Nasdaq composite was up 28.58 points at 15,510.50.

The GDP report was stronger than expected, though decelerating from the previous quarter, Madden said.

“It bolsters the case for a soft landing in the U.S.,” said Brian Madden, chief investment officer with First Avenue Investment Counsel.

Economic data, including the core Personal Consumption Expenditures index which was in line with expectations Thursday, continues to paint a picture of that unicorn scenario, said Madden.

“The other thing the markets are clamoring for as much so, if not more so, than the soft landing is quick and substantial interest rate cuts from the (U.S. Federal Reserve),” he said.

Those are unlikely to come this month, he noted. But despite Thursday’s report, they remain a “coin toss” for the March meeting.

“Ordinarily, you would think that a strong GDP print would sort of dampen the enthusiasm for rate cuts. But ... people are bidding up bonds, despite the strong economic output in the GDP report,” said Madden.

“So you're sort of getting the best of both worlds -- faster growth, and you're getting people bidding the bond curve, meaning they're still kind of pining for and expecting and pricing rate cuts this year.”

Markets took the fresh data as good news, but didn’t soar Thursday -- likely because they’re already up significantly to start the year, Madden said.

U.S. earnings continued to roll in, with Tesla shares weighing on the market Thursday. The company's stock sank more than 12 per cent after its earnings report fell short of expectations and it warned of lower sales growth in 2024.

Meanwhile, IBM’s share price rose 9.5 per cent after beating profit expectations.

The Canadian dollar traded for 74.22 cents US, according to XE.com,compared with 74.16 cents US on Wednesday.

The March crude contract was up US$2.27 at US$77.36 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down eight cents at US$2.18 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was up US$1.80 at US$2,017.80 an ounce and the March copper contract was down two cents at US$3.87 a pound.

-- With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2024.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD)

Rosa Saba, The Canadian Press