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S&P 500 set to end at record high on retail sales cheer

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The S&P 500 was on track for a record closing high on Monday, as a strong retail sales report underscored the strength of the U.S. economy and overshadowed worries from Omicron-driven flight cancellations that hit stocks in the travel sector.

Retail sales in the country rose 8.5% during this year’s holiday shopping season from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24, powered by an ecommerce boom, a report by Mastercard Inc showed.

The S&P 500 retailing index firmed 0.4%.

Travel-related stocks, typically sensitive to news around the coronavirus, declined after U.S. airlines canceled about 800 more flights on Monday after nixing thousands of flights during the Christmas weekend, as Omicron cases soared.

The S&P 1500 airlines index shed 0.6%. Cruise operators Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corp fell 1.1%-2.3%, leading declines on the benchmark S&P 500.

“The market is much more likely to respond to Omicron crimping consumer demand, as opposed to it being an issue of airlines not being able to supply the flights,” said Aoifinn Devitt, chief investment officer at Moneta in Chicago.

“That supply issue is a temporary phenomenon that will definitely be disruptive. But it’s a fixable phenomenon.”

Monday’s climb marks a fourth straight session of gain for Wall Street’s main stock indexes after encouraging news last week related to the Omicron variant calmed investor worried about the strain’s economic impact.

All the 11 main S&P 500 sector indexes advanced, with tech leading percentage gains.

At 11:20 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 193.81 points, or 0.54%, at 36,144.37 and the S&P 500 was up 40.32 points, or 0.85%, at 4,766.11.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 156.77 points, or 1.00%, at 15,810.15 on a boost from megacap companies, including Tesla Inc, Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc, and Meta Platform, rising between 0.9% and 3.3%.

Main stock indexes in the United States are eyeing a third straight yearly gain, with the benchmark S&P 500 set for its best three-year performance since 1999. The Dow is eyeing a 17.8% annual jump, while the Nasdaq is looking at a 22.1% climb.

Looking ahead, thinner-than-usual trading volumes ahead of New Year could make markets susceptible to volatile moves, although the last five trading days of December and the first two days of January have boded well for U.S. stocks 75% of the time since 1945, according to CFRA Research data.

GoDaddy Inc rose 8.9% after Activist investor Starboard Value LP has purchased a 6.5% stake in web services firm worth about $800 million.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.38-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.20-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 40 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 69 new highs and 70 new lows.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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Workers at Teck Resources’ British Columbia mine to hold ratification vote

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Canadian miner Teck Resources Ltd said on Monday that a union representing 1,048 workers at its British Columbia mine has agreed to hold a ratification vote on the mediators’ recommendation.

The union will schedule a ratification vote to be concluded no later than January 24, the company said.

Last week, the company said it had received a strike notice https://reut.rs/3A7TJZQ from the union at its Highland Valley Copper Operations in British Columbia, without providing any reasons behind the potential strike.

 

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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Markets split on BoC decision as business survey, inflation loom – BNN

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The Bank of Canada is getting a pair of key indicators this week ahead of a rate decision next Wednesday that’s virtually a coin toss, as far as markets are concerned.

First up on Monday, the central bank releases its quarterly Business Outlook Survey, which provides a snapshot of how approximately 100 corporate leaders are feeling about the economy and their own business fundamentals.

When the last survey was released in October, it showed the broadest gauge of sentiment was at the highest level in the survey’s history. That was despite worsening labour shortages and as more than half of respondents (57 per cent) said they expected labour costs to accelerate over the next year.

“[Monday’s] Business Outlook Survey might have been completed too early to catch Omicron uncertainties, so expect respondents to retain a healthy dose of optimism,” said CIBC World Markets Chief Economist Avery Shenfeld in a report to clients Friday.

“The survey could show a majority expecting inflation to run above the top end of the Bank of Canada’s one-three per cent inflation band. If not for Omicron, that would spell a rate hike in January, but the uncertainties surrounding how long this disruption will last should be enough to defer that decision.”

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada will release the consumer price index for December on Wednesday. Economists are expecting to see inflation rose 4.8 per cent year-over-year in the month; that would be the fastest rate of growth since 1991.

As of 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, market data shows investors see a 59 per cent chance of a rate hike when the Bank of Canada delivers its decision on Jan. 26.

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House Price Index rose 26% in 2021, fastest pace on record – CBC News

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The Canadian Real Estate Association’s House Price Index rose by 26.6 per cent in the 12 months up to December, the fastest annual pace of gain on record.

The group, which represents more than 100,000 realtors and tabulates sales data from homes that listed and sell via the Multiple Listings Service, said the supply of homes for sale at the end of the month hit an all-time low.

After pausing for a few weeks in the early days of the pandemic, Canada’s housing market has been on an absolute tear for the past two years, as feverish demand from buyers wishing to take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates has drastically outpaced the supply of homes to buy.

That imbalance is a major factor contributing to higher prices, as buyers have to pay more and more to outbid others because of the lack of alternatives.

Various experts are suggesting that parts of the country are showing signs of being in a speculative bubble, and CREA says the biggest reason for runaway price increases is that there aren’t enough homes being put up for sale.

“There are currently fewer properties listed for sale in Canada than at any point on record,” CREA’s chief economist Shaun Cathcart said. “So unfortunately, the housing affordability problem facing the country is likely to get worse before it gets better.”

High prices not denting demand

CREA says the average price of a Canadian home that sold on MLS in December went for $713,500. That’s actually down from the record high of more than $720,000 in November, but still well up on an annual basis.


High prices don’t seem to be slowing demand, however, as 2021 was the busiest year for home sales ever. Some 666,995 residential properties traded hands on MLS last year, smashing the previous annual record by 20 per cent.

TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi said that there was a less than two-month supply of homes for sale during the month, which means at the current sales pace, all listings would be gone in less than two months. Under normal conditions, there’s a five-month supply of homes for sale, and Sondhi says that supply and demand imbalance is a major factor in eye-popping price gains.

“With interest-rate pull-forward behaviour keeping demand so strong, and supply struggling to keep up, it’s little wonder why prices are continuing their relentless upward march,” he said. “Buyers pulling forward demand ahead of looming interest rate hikes kept sales at unsustainable levels last month. How long this effect will last is uncertain, but it should eventually fade.”

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