TORONTO – There doesn’t seem to be anything to stop the Toronto stock market from racking up further gains this week, extending a rally that has shown no sign of letting up for seven months, but analysts worry the move has left the market open to a pullback.
“That would actually be healthy,” said Danielle Park, at Venable Park Investment Counsel in Barrie, Ont.
“We need to pull back a bit, reassess the reality of what the recovery is going to look like and then gradually go from there – so far the speculative fervour seems to have caught fire again.”
The Toronto market ended last week up 192.72 points or 1.71 per cent, partly fuelled by higher energy stocks as crude oil prices climbed almost four per cent on the week amid a weaker U.S. dollar and renewed optimism for a strong economic recovery.
That left the main Toronto index up just over 50 per cent since the rally started in early March, at the end of a week where Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. recession was essentially over and investors were encouraged by positive industrial production and housing starts data.
There was also a hint of relief that the markets made it through the first three weeks of one of the historically worst months of the year with the rally intact.
But analysts warn of a sense of growing complacency amid some serious headwinds and near the top of the list is the eventual withdrawal of the government stimulus that has supported much of the economic growth seen this year.
“Things are on life support and this is the issue,” said Andrew Pyle, investment adviser at ScotiaMcLeod in Peterborough, Ont.
“When you take them off the life support, do they keep on going? And I don’t think there’s any number out there right now that is telling us that that’s the case, that we can take them off life support today, (that) we’re going to have a vibrant economy.”
And Pyle added it worries him that the market is acting like stimulus will be around for a long time.
October, another notoriously volatile month, could give investors a good idea of what a withdrawal of stimulus looks like when auto sales for September are released.
And those sales will not be boosted by the U.S. government’s Cash for Clunkers program, which sent auto sales soaring during the summer.
Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne warned last week that the program “has really warped demand” and added that we will “see harsh reality in September ( vehicle sales), it is going to drop.”
Park added that she is worried that the longer this rally goes on, “the longer you feel antsy in terms of the likelihood of that kind of parabolic stuff lasting.”
“We went back over the last 100 years and we have never found a time when you’re coming out of a recovery and had this kind of parabolic magnitude in terms of the upside,” she said.
Park also worried that volumes haven’t picked up much from the summer and lower volumes with higher prices are not a good combination.
She said she wouldn’t be surprised to see a more serious correction than some others are forecasting, thinking a level of 850 on the S&P500 would be kind of reasonable support, which would represent a tumble of 20 per cent from where it traded Friday.