The Toronto Stock Exchange posted a small gain in 2020 but badly trailed stock exchanges in the United States.
The global pandemic prompted lockdowns, unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, and the most volatile swings on equity markets in a generation. In response to it all, Toronto’s benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 37% in March and then clawed its way back to post a 2.17% gain for 2020.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s performance last year placed it 33 out of 92 major global stock market indices, with the TSX sandwiched between Malaysia and Norway in terms of total 2020 returns. However, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s performance lagged the 16% return on the S&P 500 in the U.S. as surging technology stocks fueled an epic bounce back south of the border.
A bright spot on the Toronto Stock Exchange last year was the Information Technology subgroup, which rose 83%. Shopify and payment platform provider Lightspeed POS were the top performers, up 178% and 149%, respectively. In all, eight of the group’s 10 members finished the year higher, with only Celestica (TSX:CLS) and CGI (TSX:GIB.A) modestly lower.
Trillium was Canada’s top stock performer in 2020. Shares in the developer of cancer treatments surged more than 1,300% during the year, transforming the company from a penny stock to a pharma company worth $1.7 billion.
Energy stocks were hardest hit during 2020 as demand for crude oil plummeted with the pandemic. The carnage left 21 of the Canadian energy subgroup’s 23 members in negative territory for the year, with only uranium producer Cameco (TSX:CCO) and natural-gas focused Tourmaline Oil (TSX:TOU) posting positive returns for the year.
Vermilion Energy (TSX:VET) was the worst performing stock on the Toronto exchange in 2020, with shares plunging in March and never recovering. Among the other worst stock performers were Aurora Cannabis (TSX:ACB) and Enerplus (TSX:ERF).