Don’t Blame Canada, Invest There

The "Fast Money" traders on Friday applauded the jobs report.

No, not the U.S. government report that said only 36,000 jobs were added to nonfarm payrollsin January. No, the "Fast Money" traders on Friday cheered Canada's employment data.

The Great White North reported better-than-expected job growth on Friday. It added 69,200 jobs in January, crushing Wall Street forecasts of just 15,000 additional jobs. Canada’s unemployment rate grew to 7.8 percent. Typically, a rise in unemployment would be worrying, but in this case it’s a bullish sign indicating that Canada’s labor market is strong enough to encourage discouraged workers to re-enter the labor force.

“Canada — it’s the America that we want America to be,” said Joe Terranova, chief market strategist at Virtus Investment Partners.

Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar rallied off of the news, rising to its highest level against a basket of currencies in more than two-and-a-half years. It rose sharply against the U.S. dollar in early morning trading.

Canada’s labor market performance contrasted sharply with that of the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 9 percent. Though positive on the surface, the drop was driven by a concerning number of unemployed workers quitting job searches. The workforce declined by 504,000 people.

The reason for the increase in marginally attached workers is partially due to poor weather, which made it difficult for some to look for jobs. But, the small number of jobs added in January — just 36,000 — undoubtedly contributed to unemployed workers frustration.

Canada’s comparatively strong labor market was only one reason for investors to look at the country, Terranova said. The country is a major exporter of oil and agricultural commodities, prices for which have surged in the past year. Crude oil futures are up 22.8 percent in the past 52 weeks. Sugar , another growing Canadian export to the U.S., is up nearly 18 percent due to freak storms sapping supplies from Australia and the U.K.

Canada is also a top supplier of oil and autos to the U.S. Canada is expecting exports to rise nearly 6 percent this year. Terranova thinks Canada has a big opportunity in its hands.

There are several ways to cash in on Canada, Terranova noted. Investors can buy Canadian dollars. There are also exchange-traded funds that track the performance of Canadian companies. The iShares MSCI Canada Index, for example, hit a 52-week high on Friday.

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