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S&P/TSX, Nasdaq and S&P 500 hit record highs after speech from U.S. Fed chairman


North American markets surged to record highs after a speech from the U.S. Federal Reserve chair that suggested it was in no rush to begin reducing economic stimulus measures.

Allan Small, senior investment adviser at IA Private Wealth, said the result was a broad based surge in confidence that led to all-time highs for Canada's main stock index and the Nasdaq.

"I think people were envisioning the Fed being more open to tapering (its bond-buying program), but he gave no indication of tapering anytime soon," said Small.

"So it was risk-on. Technology stocks went to the moon, energy went to the moon, really it's an up day across most sectors."

The S&P/TSX composite index shot up by 147.96 points at 20,652.11.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 242.68 points at 35,455.80. The S&P 500 index was up 39.37 points to a new all-time high of 4,509.37, while the Nasdaq composite was up 183.69 points to an all-time high of 15,129.50.

Small said the lack of urgency around tapering or interest rate hikes ultimately led to a weaker U.S. dollar, which in turn pushed commodities higher.

The loonie gained on that weakness, trading for 79.15 cents US compared with 79.05 cents US on Thursday.

The TSX materials index was up 2.98 per cent to 317.74 points, while the gold index rose by 3.09 per cent to 291.30 points

The December gold contract was up US$24.30 at US$1,819.50 an ounce and the December copper contract was up seven cents at US$4.33 a pound.

Oil prices were also on the rise, with the October crude contract up US$1.32 at US$68.74 per barrel and the October natural gas contract up 18 cents at US$4.39 per mmBTU.

Small said that increase could also be attributed to a new storm that's heading to the Gulf of Mexico, which has already affected operations for offshore oil rigs.

"This whole idea of a storm heading towards oil country, that's what drove the price of oil higher at least initially," said Small.

The TSX's financial index was one of very few on the exchange that were in the negative Friday, losing 0.34 per cent to 381.49 points.

Small said the major banks were hit earlier this week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a campaign pledge to raise the corporate income tax rate by three percentage points for banks and insurance companies with earnings over $1 billion.

"If Justin Trudeau is the next prime minister and he gets a majority, I think you could see bank stocks perhaps sell off a little," said Small. "Banking and financials make up the largest component of our market.

"They're the bloodline of our economy, If they're negatively impacted by him raising taxes, obviously that's a bad thing."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2021. Top Stories

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