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Canada’s main stock index neared an all-time high on Friday, keeping it on course for a second straight weekly rise.

Health care stocks were responsible for most of the gains, jumping 3.6 per cent in early trading with Canopy, Aurora and Tilray leading the pack.

Technology stocks also lifted the index, rising 1.5 per cent bolstered by a pull back in bond yields signaling greater future growth prospects.

The TSX is currently up by 0.8 per cent to 21,755.65 as of 2:08 pm ET. It’s up by just over 24 per cent since January.

Going into the weekend, the country’s major firms will have employment on their minds. With unemployment at a 20-month low, and the cost of living surging with vaccination rates, the prospect of higher wages and incentives to secure top talent is all but inevitable.

Energy producers are in a particularly tricky situation as labor shortages mean they won’t be able to capitalize on elevated fuel prices while the commodity cycle is in their favour.

To remedy the issue, the federal and certain provincial governments are working on expediting the process to hire temporary foreign workers and increase the maximum number allowed per facility. While the measure could lead to lower wage pressure, it will have to be balanced with Bank of Canada (BoC) projections that see inflation rising on average 3.4 per cent over the next two years.

The BoC has also suggested April 2022 for its first post-COVID interest rate hike, a move that would bring some relief to Canadian manufacturers scrambling to satisfy demand for goods while supply chains remain stalled or halted the world over.

An additional hope is that Canadians will gradually return to consuming services, whether online or in person, allowing the prices of essential items to normalize as health risks subside.

Market movers

Companies garnering investor interest on The Market Herald Canada over the past week are primed to take advantage of high commodity prices as well as Web 3.0 and the burgeoning metaverse.

First Cobalt, soon to be renamed Electra Battery Materials, announced its expansion into battery-grade nickel and cobalt, recycled battery materials and precursor material, providing North American automakers with a domestic source of low-carbon raw materials.

Red Pine Exploration reported a significant gold intersection from its 2021 drilling program on its Wawa Project in Ontario.

Finally, Nextech AR Solutions announced the launch of its ARitize Metaverse Studio, which enables customers to create their own metaverses.

Companies raising capital this week include:

HIVE Blockchain Technologies, a provider of infrastructure solutions in the blockchain industry, which announced a C$100 million private placement.

NorthWest Copper, an exploration company with a pipeline of projects in British Columbia, which is seeking to raise $20 million through a private placement. 

And Nevada Copper, a mining company raising $114 million through a public offering.

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