Strength in base metal and energy stocks helped Canada's main stock index post modest gains Friday, while U.S. markets also rose. 

The first trading week of December ended on a somewhat positive note as investors are uncertain about whether they should expect a so-called Santa Claus rally of stocks rising toward the end of the year, said Danick Dutrisac, portfolio manager and vice-president at Fiduciary Trust Canada. 

“I think after a pretty incredible November ... the market participants aren’t really sure how to position themselves going into the homestretch of 2024,” he said.  

“Over the past week or so, we've seen a lot of firms spit out their targets for next year for global (indexes),” added Dutrisac.

Those targets are “pretty much all over the place,” he said. 

“So it's hard to go into this last month of the year and position the portfolio.” 

The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 53.03 points at 20,331.54.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 130.49 points at 36,247.87. The S&P 500 Index was up 18.78 points at 4,604.37, while the Nasdaq Composite was up 63.98 points at 14,403.97.

Next week will see the U.S. Federal Reserve’s final rate announcement of the year. The central bank is widely expected to hold its overnight rate steady, like the Bank of Canada did this week, said Dutrisac. 

“I don't think we're going to be too surprised by what comes out. But there's going to be a particular focus on the tone of the message,” he said. 

“They don't want the market to get ahead of them. So they're trying to keep these ... kind of hawkish comments so that the market doesn't overstep.”

One of the last major economic releases before the Fed decision — Tuesday’s inflation reading being the last — showed that U.S. employers added more jobs than economists expected last month, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.7 per cent. 

“Labour market conditions remain tight,” said Dutrisac.  

However, despite the overall strong jobs report there are some details that should give positive signals to the Fed, said Dutrisac.

For example, labour force participation rose, showing more supply on the market, he said. 

Nevertheless, the jobs report appeared to push some investors’ rate expectations further into the new year, he said. 

Oil saw some price recovery Friday after falling below US$70 this week. 

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.59 cents U.S. compared with 73.55 cents U.S. on Thursday.

The January crude oil contract was up US$1.89 at US$71.22 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down less than a penny at US$2.58 per mm/BTU.

The February gold contract was down US$31.90 at US$2,014.50 an ounce and the March copper contract was up three cents at US$3.83 a pound.

With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2023.