Wildfires Rage In Canada, Turning U.S. Skies Orange – Air Quality Stocks See Modest Gains

Air purifying stocks have performed well this week off the back of the chaos, with the air quality set to be an issue running into the weekend.
Wildfires Rage In Canada, Turning U.S. Skies Orange - Air Quality Stocks See Modest Gains

Key takeaways

  • Wildfires are raging across Canada, with a knock-on effect across the U.S. Northeast, forcing millions to stay at home while air quality became hazardous
  • Air purifying stocks have risen on the stock market, with Whirlpool leading the gains this week
  • The biggest cleantech ETF has lost over 5% in value this year, suggesting the industry is still a long-term play for investors despite the climate emergency

It’s been a sad week for the environment. Wildfires have reached record-breaking levels in Canada, causing towns to be evacuated and smoke to turn the U.S. Northeast region’s skies into something out of Blade Runner.

Air purifying stocks have performed well this week off the back of the chaos, with the air quality set to be an issue running into the weekend. It prompts another look at otherwise dull ventilation system stocks for investors to add to their portfolio and the cleantech market still presents an undervalued opportunity. Let’s get into the details.

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What’s happening in Canada?

Wildfires have torn across Canada, including the Quebec and Nova Scotia regions, with 457,000 hectares of land already burned. Firefighters from the U.S. and worldwide have traveled to Canada to help stop the spread of the devastating wildfires. Canadian officials have called the situation “unprecedented” and wildfire records are being broken nationwide.

Hundreds of fires are still raging, with winds spreading the smoke over vast swathes of the US. At one point on Wednesday, New York City’s air pollution was the worst of anywhere else in the world; baseball games and outdoor activities were canceled, schools were closed across the city and the advice was to stay indoors.

Due to poor visibility, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been forced to cancel thousands of flights this week in the New York, Ohio and Mid-Atlantic regions, causing travel chaos for hundreds of thousands.

As of Friday, it appears the worst of the air quality woes will be over, but air quality warnings will still be in effect for the Northeast and Midwest regions and the smoke could linger for days to come.

How markets have reacted

Companies that sell consumer air purifying products had a good week. Whirlpool is up 7.6% in the last working week and Newell Brands saw a 3% boost to its shares on Wednesday, though those gains have since retreated. Johnson Controls has seen a modest rise in the last few days by nearly 2%.

The biggest markets have managed to shrug off concerns, with the S&P 500 seeing a 1.25% boost in the last five days and officially exiting a bear market. The Nasdaq shifted slightly higher by 0.36% in the same period and the Dow Jones had the most success, with a 1.95% climb.

The clean tech industry’s current state

The potential for the cleantech industry is massive, especially when wildfire smoke brings reality home to the world’s financial capital. 91% of the global economy now has some sort of carbon net zero pledge in place, while the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act signed into law last year confirmed a $370 billion investment into shifting away from fossil fuels.

And we’re not short of announcements in the cleantech space globally. This week the European Parliament saw 100 cleantech solutions from 18 European countries presented to its body as part of The Arch project, while Google launched its cleantech accelerator fund for startups in the Middle East and Africa.

But it’s still a longer-term play for investors than other markets, like tech, which is massively up in 2023. The biggest cleantech ETF on the market, the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, has lost 5.3% of its value in 2023. The First Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge Green Energy index fund has gained 10%, though it counts outperformer Tesla
as one of its biggest holdings.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see further investment pour into the cleantech economy as a knee-jerk reaction from hedge funds to the headlines this week, which could see cleantech stocks grow in the coming months.

The air quality stocks market

It’s only natural that with all of the concerning news, a renewed focus on air quality stocks has materialized this week. Companies specializing in air quality have outperformed the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average this week.

Carrier Global, which counts ventilation systems as one of its core products, saw a downgrade to its stock after a Morgan Stanley analyst cut the price target from $49 to $47 a share. The shares slid and at its worst point, Carrier was the biggest loser on the S&P 500 on Thursday. But the share price has actually gained 8.6% this working week thanks to the wildfire headlines.

Trane Technologies is another more prominent player in the space focusing on ventilation systems, with its share price having climbed 4.71% this week and holding onto gains for three consecutive days.

One outlier performance this week is technology conglomerate Honeywell International, which has only seen a 0.8% gain this week and saw a small slip of 0.12% to its share price on Thursday. It had a good earning report last quarter, so some would argue that the stock is undervalued.

The bottom line

Environmental concerns continue to grow thanks to global warming, as we’ve seen this week with the devastating wildfires. While governments and industries work to transition the planet into carbon net zero, otherwise overlooked opportunities like air purification and ventilation system stocks could be a good buy for investors.

The cleantech industry also presents opportunities, especially with the dizzying pace it’s moving at to make net zero a reality. But with a lack of established companies in the space yet, it’s a risky investment for traders to consider. Thankfully, our Clean Tech Kit makes life easier for those looking to add cleantech stocks to their portfolios.

Climate change is a worldwide issue that has an impact on the global economy. You can invest in other markets with Q.ai’s low-risk Global Trends Kit, which uses AI to invest in stocks and bonds, forex and oil, among other assets, to help you build wealth.

It works by the AI doing the digging with the data to find the top-performing assets. It then reallocates funds in the Kit’s holdings as required to help you make the most out of every cent without the upfront work.

Download Q.ai today for access to AI-powered investment strategies.