Canada’s main stock market rallied for a third straight day and the loonie rose to a nine-day high on Thursday as Ottawa tripled the size of a mortgage securities buying program, with investors becoming more impressed with the amount of economic aid.
Canada said it was ready to buy $150-billion of mortgage securities, up from $50-billion announced earlier this month, to expand funding for lenders dealing with tighter credit markets due to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
On Wednesday, Canada almost doubled the value of an aid package to $52-billion to help people and businesses deal with losses from the outbreak, while the Bank of Canada has cut its key interest rate by a total of 100 basis points this month to 0.75%.
Some economists expect the central bank to cut rates to zero and begin purchasing in large scale assets such as government bonds.
“Fear over how long coronavirus containment measures could last are starting to be offset by encouragement that fiscal and monetary support measures are underway to support Canadians and Canadian companies,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index rose 1.77%, or 231.94 points, to 13,371.74. The index has rebounded nearly 20% from Monday’s 8-year low.
The heavily weighted financials group rallied 1.7%, while industrials were up 3.3%.
The Canadian dollar was trading 1% higher at 1.4047 to the greenback, or 71.19 U.S. cents. The currency, which on Wednesday notched its biggest gain in four years, touched its strongest intraday level since March 17 at 1.4010.
The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, fell more than 7% as restrictions on travel worldwide slashed fuel demand and the United States scrapped plans to buy domestic oil for its emergency reserve.
Canadian government bond yields fell across the curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year was down 7.6 basis points at 0.826%.
A Wall Street rally powered global gains in stocks on Thursday despite a record number of new unemployment filings in the United States, as traders focused on the unanimous passage of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill in the U.S. Senate and the possibility of more stimulus to come.
The legislation is intended to flood the country with cash in a bid to stem the crushing impact the outbreak has already had on the world’s largest economy. Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the past week, eclipsing the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982. The bill is heading for the House of Representatives for a vote on Friday.
“In less than two weeks, we have moved from full employment to a number of job destruction we have never experienced in a period of peace,” wrote Christopher Dembik, head of macro analysis at Saxo Bank.
Earlier on Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy is likely in recession already but that reopening businesses should be dictated by the control of the virus’ spread, in contrast to the urging by some of President Donald Trump’s advisers for a faster reopening. The president himself has said he wants the economy to be “roaring” by Easter, in a little over two weeks.
The astronomical number of jobless filings left some wondering if the stimulus package, despite its size, would be enough.
“If these numbers continue for three or four weeks, there will be demand for more fiscal support,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.
She said the stock market reaction would suggest “that market participants expect a larger stimulus package or fiscal package from the government than the $2 trillion that has been agreed upon.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1,351.62 points, or 6.38%, to 22,552.17, the S&P 500 gained 154.51 points, or 6.24%, to 2,630.07 and the Nasdaq Composite added 413.24 points, or 5.6%, to 7,797.54.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 2.55% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 3.79%.
Global stock markets have lost about a quarter of their value in the last six weeks of virus-driven selling.
While markets have found a measure of sustenance as governments and central banks launch unprecedented support measures, investors have struggled to work out how bad the coronavirus impact would be.
“No one is sure how long things are going to be locked down for, how wide the virus will spread in the U.S., what the death toll and hit on the economy will look like,” said Salman Baig, portfolio manager at Unigestion.
The combination of the massive jobless claims and stimulus dragged the dollar lower.
The dollar index, tracking the unit against six major currencies, fell 1.457%, and was on track for its largest daily percentage decline since early June 2016.
The euro up 1.42% to $1.1034 and the Japanese yen strengthened 1.72% versus the greenback at 109.35 per dollar, while Sterling was last at $1.2127, up 2.04% on the day.
“Although the latest Fed measures have helped calm markets, as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues and the world economy is effectively in lockdown, we would expect markets to remain in turmoil,” foreign exchange analysts at Bank of America said in a report on Thursday.
The softer greenback buoyed emerging market currencies, with MSCI’s index on track for its largest daily percentage gain in nine months.
Oil prices dropped more than $1 a barrel on Thursday as a growing number of virus-related restrictions on travel slashed global fuel demand, overshadowing expectations that a $2 trillion U.S. stimulus package will bolster economic activity.
The head of the International Energy Agency said worldwide oil demand could drop as much as 20 million barrels per day, or 20% of total demand, as 3 billion people are currently under stay-at-home orders due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled at $22.60 a barrel, falling $1.89, or 7.7%. Brent crude futures settled at $26.34 a barrel, shedding $1.05, or 3.8%. Both contracts are down about 60% this year.
The twin shocks of the coronavirus pandemic and the supply surge from Saudi Arabia and Russia after the two nations failed to come to an agreement to limit supply has roiled crude markets, which have lost about half their value in March.
“With demand down 20% or more globally, it’s two Saudi Arabias-worth of production that would need to be cut out to try to even attempt to balance this market,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital in New York.
Prices on U.S. Treasury bonds rose but yields traded relatively tightly and within the week’s range, suggesting the market had already priced in expectations for abysmal data.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 18/32 in price to yield 0.7985%, from 0.856% late on Wednesday. The 30-year bond last rose 45/32 in price to yield 1.3683%, from 1.421% late on Wednesday.