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The S&P/TSX Composite index advanced 18.5 per cent since the start of the year, putting it on track for its second-biggest gain since 2009.Evan Buhler/The Canadian Press

Canada’s main stock index will add to its recent record high over the coming year as the domestic economic recovery helps underpin corporate earnings, but gains are expected to slow from 2020′s breakneck pace, a Reuters poll found.

The median prediction of 26 portfolio managers and strategists was for the S&P/TSX Composite index to rise 9.1 per cent to 22,540 by the end of 2022.

That’s a move that would eclipse last month’s record high of 21,796.16 and compares with an August forecast of 22,000. It was then expected to edge up to 23,150 by the middle of 2023.

The index had advanced 18.5 per cent since the start of the year, putting it on track for its second-biggest gain since 2009.

“We think the economy and markets will continue to progress further into the mid-cycle phase next year,” said Angelo Kourkafas, investment strategist at Edward Jones. “We are past the strongest point of the cycle, but there is plenty of runway ahead, especially from an economic standpoint.”

Canada’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 5.4 per cent in the third quarter, beating analyst expectations, and growth most likely accelerated in October on a manufacturing rebound.

“Banks can continue to benefit from an improving economy and reducing loan loss provisions and resource companies can benefit from higher commodity prices,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.

Combined, the financial services and resource sectors account for 55 per cent of the Toronto market’s valuation.

Nearly all participants that answered a separate question on the outlook for corporate earnings expected earnings to improve. But the pace of growth could slow.

“We expect a decelerating pace of [earnings] growth,” said Chhad Aul, chief investment officer and head of multi-asset solutions at SLGI Asset Management Inc. “In particular, we expect the recent strong earnings growth in the energy sector to begin to moderate.”

The price of oil, a key driver of energy sector earnings, has tumbled 24 per cent since October, pressed by rising coronavirus cases in Europe and the detection of the possibly vaccine-resistant Omicron variant.

Another risk to the outlook could be a reduction in policy support, investors say.

With inflation climbing, the Bank of Canada has signalled it could begin hiking interest rates as soon as April and the Federal Reserve is mulling whether to wrap up tapering of bond purchases a few months sooner.

“The key is the pace of both fiscal and monetary policy normalization,” said Ben Jang, a portfolio manager at Nicola Wealth. “This process will likely lead to more volatility in markets, potentially returning to an environment where we will see drawdowns of more than 10 per cent.”

Asked if a correction was likely over the coming six months, nearly all respondents said yes.

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