Stock markets: Canada’s main stock index closes up

Canada’s main stock index closed up slightly on a shortened trading day because of Christmas Eve, as investors anxiously await more data around the Omicron variant and economic indicators in the coming weeks.

The S&P/TSX composite index ended up 10.75 points at 21,229.68 on Friday as health care, energy, and financials gained.

The index gained 490.67 points for the week, which saw a four-day rally as fears around the Omicron variant eased.

U.S. markets were closed Friday in lieu of Christmas Day, which falls on Saturday. North American commodities markets were also closed for the holiday.

“Overall a very quiet day and a low-volume day, which is to be expected,” Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp., said in a phone interview.

The lack of U.S. trading activity or fresh economic figures resulted in less market movement.

But several reasons for optimism fuelled the rebound since Tuesday, which followed weeks of angst over the effects of the latest, highly transmissible strain of COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency approval of antiviral pills from Pfizer and Merck helped spur the rally. Meanwhile, data from the United Kingdom and South Africa offered encouraging signs about hospitalization, though the World Health Organization has cautioned against broader conclusions just yet.

“I don’t think investors were thinking Santa Claus was coming at all this year, based on the prior week’s trading,” Chopra said.

More information on Omicron expected in January could impact areas ranging from travel and tourism to inflation and the price of oil.

“With the potential for more shutdowns, it does create inflation in certain product lines,” he said, citing the fallout from an imbalance between supply and demand.

“And if Omicron causes a slow-down, then the price of oil tends to go down.”

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.05 cents US compared with 78.03 cents US on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 24, 2021.

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