North American markets punch back, ending slide


TORONTO – The Toronto Stock Exchange was solidly higher Wednesday while indexes in New York soared as buyers flocked back to end a six-day slide, the longest on Wall Street in more than three years.

The turnaround at least temporarily ended the bleeding that has driven investors from the market and wiped out trillions of dollars in asset values, but there was no guarantee it would put an end to the recent volatility.

Still, there is no reason for most investors to be overly concerned, said Craig Jerusalim, a portfolio manager with CIBC Asset Management, who added that much of the volatility has to do with investor psychology.

“When greed is taking hold and the market is high, that is when investors want to be buying and when the market is low and fear sets in, that’s when they want to be selling,” said Jerusalim.

“So investors essentially want to do the exact wrong thing at the wrong time.”

He said people should stay invested in companies with strong balance sheets and sustainable business models since statistics show that in most years, being out of the market on just the 10 best trading days can wipe out all or most of the year’s gains.

“I choose to look through this noise because the time in the market tops timing the market.”

But for a day, at least, there was relief on the markets as the Dow Jones industrial average shot up 619.07 points or almost four per cent to 16,285.51. The gain, the biggest on the index in seven years, more than matched its worst one-day drop since the recent sell-off began — 588.4 points on Monday — but leaving the index still down more than 700 points over the period.

The S&P 500 rose 72.90 points to 1,940.51 and the Nasdaq jumped 191.05 points to 4,697.54 after also having suffered heavy losses prompted by concerns over the health of China’s economy and a devaluation of its currency, the yuan.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite also soared, up 230.66 points, or 1.75 per cent, to 13,381.591 after seeing an earlier triple-digit advance evaporate into a slight loss before ramping up again in the late afternoon.

On commodity markets, benchmark October oil contract settled down 71 cents at US$38.60 a barrel, while October natural gas was unchanged at US$2.70 per thousand cubic feet. September copper fell seven cents to US$2.25 a pound while December gold lost $13.70 to US$1,124.60 an ounce.

The Canadian dollar, which hit 11-year lows on Tuesday, was up 0.13 of a cent at 75.06 cents U.S.

Stock markets around the world have been in flux for more than a week amid deep plunges on China’s main market and a decision by its central bank to devaluate the yuan in a move to stimulate its slowing economy.

Jerusalim said changes in China’s economy are bound to have ripple effects globally. But he added they were not going to derail “the most stable economy in the world, which is the United States.”

While oil in recent days has hovered below US$40 a barrel, dealing a blow to Canada’s economy, a stronger U.S. could boost prospects north of the border, he said.

“Now it is a slight negative for countries like Canada, but … Canada will at least partially benefit from the strength in their largest trading partner to the south.”