Canadians invest huge amount of money in foreign stocks in December as Wall Street outpaces Bay Street

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      Canada's main stock index saw its biggest percentage gain last year since 2009—the S&P/TSX Composite Index was up 19 percent in 2019.

      But the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a basket of 30 large-cap U.S.-listed stocks, rose 25.3 percent in 2019, which was 33 percent higher than the gain on Bay Street.

      And in December, Canadian investors bought more foreign stocks—$14.7 billion—than in any month since December 2017.

      In the final month of 2019, foreign investors held a far lower dollar value in Canadian bonds.

      As a result, the net outflow of securities from Canada in December reached $23.4 billion, the largest monthly total since December 2014, according to Statistics Canada.

      In November, Canadians bought $4.4 billion in foreign stocks, which was substantial. But there was a 235 percent increase in foreign-stock buying the following month.

      Perhaps coincidentally, this occurred as UBC students were ramping up pressure on the university to divest from fossil-fuel companies.

      The upswing in buying foreign stocks in November and December of 2019 marked quite a difference from the trend for the entire year.

      "Despite the investment activity recorded in the final two months of 2019, total acquisitions of foreign equities for the year amounted to $5.5 billion, down slightly from 2018 and well below the level of acquisitions of $68.6 billion in 2017," Statistics Canada reported.

      Net retirements of provincial government bonds were responsible for half of the foreign divestment in bonds. Foreign investors' holdings in this area were down by $15.8 billion in December. 

      "For the year, foreign acquisitions of Canadian bonds were up to $35.5 billion," Statistics Canada stated. "Similar to 2018, non-resident investors continued to add Canadian private corporate bonds to their portfolios and reduce their exposure to government bonds in 2019, though at a slower pace."