TORONTO—North American stock markets closed on a high note Friday, though investors who have been seeking clarity for weeks from Donald Trump got little of it during his inaugural address as president.
The S&P/TSX composite index added 138.07 points to 15,547.88 in a fairly broad-based rally. The materials sector of the TSX led the charge, up 1.64 per cent, while global gold stocks climbed 1.25 per cent and the financials sector gained 0.98 per cent. Energy stocks were up 0.82 per cent.
The sole decliners on the TSX were health-care stocks, down 0.54 per cent, and the utilities sector, which slipped 0.11 per cent.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 94.85 points to 19,827.25, while the S&P 500 was up 7.62 points at 2,271.31 and the Nasdaq composite added 15.25 points at 5,555.33.
Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets Canada, said Trump’s inaugural speech had a “fairly limited” effect on the markets and the Canadian dollar, which was down 0.07 of a cent at 75.04 cents US.
“Overall, the speech hit a lot of the main themes that he had already expressed during his campaign,” Cieszynski said. “The big thing was he didn’t start saying things like I’m going to come in and rip up NAFTA.”
Stock markets have rallied in the wake of Trump’s election win on expectations that he would increase infrastructure spending, cut corporate taxes and deregulate industry—measures expected to stimulate the U.S. economy.
But the upwards trajectory has stalled recently as investors seek greater assurance to determine whether Trump’s actions will justify the gains.
Trump’s inauguration speech echoed the protectionist, pro-America themes that he hit on during his campaign but shed no light on issues that could have repercussions for the markets, such as trade and taxation.
Norman Levine, the managing director at Portfolio Management Corp., said the lack of specificity was reflected in the movement of the U.S. dollar, which weakened slightly.
“The great uncertainty is what is he going to do versus what he said beforehand,” said Levine. “What politicians say and what they end up doing once they’re in can be very different.”
The weakness in the U.S. dollar translated to higher commodity prices, which in turn boosted the resource-driven TSX.
The March crude contract was at US$53.22, up $1.10, while the February contract was at US$52.42, up $1.05, on lighter volume.
The February gold contract rose $3.40 to US$1,204.90 an ounce and March copper contracts were up just over a cent at US$2.63 a pound.
Natural gas was the sole outlier, with the February contracts losing 16 cents to US$3.20 per mmBtu.
In economic news, Statistics Canada reported that the annual pace of inflation climbed higher last month, but falling food prices offset gas price increases, making the increase smaller than expected.
The consumer price index was up 1.5 per cent in December compared to where it was a year ago _ higher than November’s increase of 1.2 per cent. Economists had been expecting a 1.7 per cent year-over-year increase in December.