How to Invest in Canadian Stocks and Bonds

Easily Invest in Canada with ETFs and ADRs

Pen pointing to stocks and bonds on a computer


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Canada is one of the wealthiest nations in the world with a nominal gross domestic product of approximately $1.7 trillion. While the service industry dominates its economy, the country's extensive natural resources drive its exports. These factors have helped make Canada one of the premier global investment destinations, particularly for U.S. investors.

Investors can purchase Canadian stocks and bonds in a few different ways. Canadian stocks and bonds can be purchased directly on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE, formerly the Canadian National Stock Exchange), or on other Canadian stock exchanges.

Alternatively, investors can easily gain exposure to Canadian stocks and bonds through exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or American depositary receipts (ADRs) on U.S. exchanges.

Key Takeaways

  • Canada offers an attractive investment opportunity due to its robust economy and stable monetary policy.
  • Benefits to investing in Canada include its extensive natural resources, stable rate of inflation, and low budget deficits.
  • The country is limited in its economic diversity, however, and may not represent enough portfolio diversification for U.S. investors.
  • Options for investing in Canada include ETFs, ADRs, or direct purchase of Canadian stocks and bonds.

Speculating on Canada

Canada is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world, with a strong natural resource base and a stable monetary policy. It is a robust polity with a low budget deficit.

Investors may want to be wary of the country's strong ties to the U.S., which can mitigate the beneficial effects of diversification. The country's natural resources sector makes it susceptible to often-volatile commodity price movements.

Benefits of Investing in Canada

Canada has an extensive natural resource base that ranges from precious metals to crude oil. These resources have allowed the country to export energy while sustaining itself at the same time.

Canada has a very stable rate of inflation, despite its enormous resource base. Natural resource-based economies are generally afflicted by fluctuating rates of inflation due to the volatility of energy prices (referred to as the Resources Curse). This is partially due to its tighter monetary policy with target interest rates of 2% and more conservative bailout policies.

Canada's budget deficit was just 2.1% compared to around 9.8% in the United States in 2010. In 2018, Canada even was able to post a budget surplus of 0.8 % in the first half of the year (while the U.S. deficit remained around 4% of GDP for the same period).

It also compares quite favorably with many European and Asian countries. This means a more manageable long-term outlook and fiscal stability.

U.S.-based venture capitalists are moving to Canada, with $1.372 million (2019) indicating that Canadian startups are becoming a popular investment among U.S. investors.

Risks of Investing in Canada

Canada's economy is strongly correlated to that of the U.S. as its largest trading partner, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It means that the country may not offer as much diversification for U.S. investors as other markets.

Canada's economy derives much of its strength from natural resource commodities. The country does not have much of a manufacturing presence, nor a competitive level of research and development.

Invest in Canada With ETFs and ADRs

The easiest way to invest in Canada is through U.S. listed Canadian ETFs and ADRs. Canadian ETFs enable investors to buy single securities that give 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 a foreign exchange.

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 and Bonds

Investors with a more hands-on approach can purchase Canadian stocks and bonds directly through the Toronto Stock Exchange, Canadian Securities Exchange, 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 tax 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.

The Bottom Line

Canada offers investors an attractive opportunity to invest in a robust economy with extensive natural resources. Those interested in adding Canadian exposure to their portfolios can do so with ETFs, ADRs, or direct foreign investments using most popular brokerage accounts.

The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.