By David Berman
No doubt, you are probably looking for places to hide amid the carnage right now – or at least looking for a few bright spots in your existing portfolio. Warning: There are few. The plunge in North American stocks on Thursday has affected every sector, from defensive to cyclical stocks.
However, there are several specific winners out there, most of them beyond the stock market. Here are four.
1. Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT): News that the food conglomerate is dividing itself into two publicly traded entities – one for snacks, another for groceries – has so far overshadowed the broader downturn, at least in midday trading. No word yet on whether the split will involve separating the Oreo wafer from the cream centre.
2. Bonds: Prices for U.S. and Canadian government bonds surged amid the stock market mayhem, with investors preferring triple-A ratings (yes, the U.S. still has its top rating) over uncertain corporate profits. Yields, which move in the opposite direction to price, plummeted. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond fell below 2.5 per cent for the first time since late last year. The yield on the 10-year Government of Canada bond fell below 2.6 per cent, rivalling its low point during the worst of the 2008 financial crisis.
3. The U.S. dollar: You can smirk over this flight to safety, but the greenback is looking pretty good right now. Against the Canadian dollar, it has risen more than 3 percent over the past few weeks and is currently trading at a one-month high. Put another way, the Canadian dollar has slumped below $1.03 (U.S.) from $1.06 in July. That boosts the value of any U.S.-dollar denominated assets, like bonds, and cushions the blow on U.S. stocks.
4. Gold: Gold producers are being thrown off the truck along with everything else, but gold itself is holding up relatively well. In New York, it traded at $1,660 an ounce, down just $1.70. But remember that the U.S. dollar is up and gold is quoted in U.S. dollars. So, in Canadian-dollar terms, gold was up on Thursday, bringing the gains since the start of July to 13.4 per cent.