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TSX, U.S. markets extend positive streak as FDA approves Pfizer vaccine

TORONTO — North American equity markets rose higher Thursday, as Canada's main stock index, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all extended a run of fresh highs.

TORONTO — North American equity markets rose higher Thursday, as Canada's main stock index, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all extended a run of fresh highs.

Carol Schleif, deputy chief investment officer of BMO Family Office, said stock markets were rising on the back of clarity around COVID-19 vaccines now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had fully approved the Pfizer shot. 

She said talks in the U.S. government about approving large infrastructure spending have also played out well in North American equities.

"The fact that you had a vaccine approved means a lot of companies are coming into line now and giving clarity" around vaccine mandates and efforts to protect their operations amid the ongoing wave of COVID-19 cases, Schlief said.

"It's a tad more optimistic."

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 39.24 points at 35,405.50. The S&P 500 index was up 9.96 points at 4,496.19, while the Nasdaq composite was up 22.06 points at 15,041.86.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 39.56 points to reach a new record close 20,587.32.

The TSX's financial index had a modestly positive effect on the exchange as quarterly reports from major banks continue to roll in. 

The Royal Bank of Canada and National Bank posted increased profits Wednesday, while the Bank of Montreal and Bank of Nova Scotia posted gains in their results the previous day.

RBC's stock was up 0.83 per cent to $133.15 as a result, however, National Bank's stock faltered with a drop of 0.55 per cent to $99.14.

Meanwhile in commodities, Schlief said oil had found a sweet spot where investors can expect it to remain steady, with the October crude oil contract up 82 cents Wednesday at US$68.36 per barrel.

"It seems like (it's settling)," said Schlief.

"I think that stabilization is definitely there and it's interesting because U.S. drillers are showing restraint, whether it's shareholder imposed restraint or banker imposed restraint, in that they could be drilling and they're not."

The December gold contract was down US$17.50 at US$1,791 an ounce, which Schlief said could be a sign of better investor sentiment around the market. 

"It again plays into the cautiously optimistic scenario," said Schlief. 

"It's not gangbusters yet, we're still grudgingly climbing that wall of worry, but at the margin it seems like with gold coming down, interest rates settling into a higher level but not too high of a level, you've got this nice mix where people could be thinking "yeah, this market is interesting."

In other commodities, copper was relatively flat with the September contract up less than a penny at US$4.27 a pound. The October natural gas contract was up less than a penny at US$3.93 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.25 cents US compared with 79.31 cents US on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2021.

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

Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press

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