First Quarter 2016 Strategy Review
The North American equity markets were off to one of the worst starts to the year since 2009. We saw both the TSX and the S&P500 indices decline almost 9% and 11%, respectively, at their low points in January and February of 2016. In Canada, slowing emerging market growth, in particular China, as well as lower oil prices which hit a 13 year low and negative investor sentiment were the main factors driving the TSX Index lower. Oil, which began the year at US $37.04 hit a low in February of US $26 before bouncing back to close at US $38 on March 31st. In January, the Canadian dollar also hit a 13 year low of US $0.685 before recovering to almost US $0.77 by the end of the quarter. The recovery was initially triggered by news that the Bank of Canada (BoC) left its benchmark rate unchanged at its January meeting, rather than making the anticipated cut. In its January statement, the BoC said that inflation in Canada is evolving broadly as expected.