Canada is one of the wealthiest nations in the world with a gross domestic product of $1.574 trillion in 2010, according to Statistics Canada. While the service industry dominates its economy, the country's natural resource base is one of the largest in the world. These factors have helped make Canada one of the first places international investors look for a safe haven.
Investors can purchase Canadian stocks and bonds in a couple different ways. Canadian stocks and bonds can be purchased directly on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Canadian National Stock Exchange or other Canadian stock exchanges. Or, investors can easily purchase many Canadian stocks and bonds through exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or American Depository Receipts (ADRs).
Benefits & Risks of Investing in Canada
Canada is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world, with a strong natural resource base, stable monetary policy and a low budget deficit. But investors should be aware of the country's strong ties to the U.S. that can mitigate the beneficial effects of diversification. And the country's natural resources sector makes it susceptible to often-volatile commodity price movements.
Benefits of investing in Canada include:
- Strong Natural Resources - Canada has an extensive natural resource base that ranges from precious metals to crude oil. This has helped it avoid many of the problems faced by other developed countries that are net energy importers.
- Stable Inflation Rates - Canada has a very stable rate of inflation, unlike many emerging markets, despite its enormous natural resource base. This is partially due to its tighter monetary policy with target interest rates of 1.0% and more conservative bailout policies.
- Low Budget Deficit - Canada's budget deficit was just 2.1% compared to around 9.8% in the United States in 2010, and it compares even more favorably to many troubled European and Asian countries. This means a more manageable long-term outlook.
Risks of investing in Canada include:
- Exposure to the United States - Canada's economy is strongly correlated to that of the U.S. as its largest trading partner, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This means that the country may not offer as much diversification for U.S. investors as other markets.
- Reliance on Commodity Prices - Canada's economy derives a lot of its strength from commodities with its enormous natural resource base. This means that its economy may be susceptible to swings based on often-volatile commodity prices.
Invest in Canada with ETFs & ADRs
The easiest way to invest in Canada is through U.S.-listed Canadian ETFs and ADRs. Canadian ETFs enable investors to buy a single security that gives them exposure to hundreds of stocks. These ETFs can track the entire Canadian economy or specific industries. Conversely, ADRs give investors the ability to buy into individual Canadian companies without the hassle of transacting on foreign stock exchanges.
Here are some popular Canadian ETFs:
- Canada Energy Income ETF (NYSE: ENY)
- MSCI Canada Index Fund (NYSE: EWC)
- IQ Canada Small Cap ETF (NYSE: CNDA)
- S&P/TSX Venture 30 Canada ETF (NYSE: TSXV)
- Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDXJ)
Here are some popular Canadian ADRs:
- Bank of Montreal (NYSE: BMO)
- Brookfield Office Properties Inc. (NYSE: BPO)
- Canadian Natural Resource Ltd. (NYSE: CNQ)
- Imperial Oil Limited (AMEX: IMO)
- Canadian National Railway (NYSE: CNI)
Investing in Canadian Stocks & Bonds
Investors with a more hands-on approach and purchase Canadian stocks and bonds directly through the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), Canadian National Stock Exchange (CNSX) or other Canadian stock exchanges. Some U.S. stock exchanges like E*Trade support trading on the TSX and TSXV exchanges, but other U.S. brokerage houses may not support such functionality.
Most of the largest companies trading in Canada are listed in the S&P/TSX 60 Index, while up-and-coming companies are listed on the TSX Venture 50 Index. As a result, investors looking for a good starting point when investing in Canadian stocks may want to browse through these companies first. However, many junior mining companies are also popular among international investors.
Investors taking this route should be aware of the legal and tax implications. The capital gains and income taxes rates for investments in Canada may differ from those in the United States. Investors should talk to their financial advisor or an investment professional to determine the extent of these differences and how to handle foreign taxes.