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S&P/TSX composite index falls on pressure from materials, U.S. markets up slightly

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index fell after a mixed day that saw losses in materials and healthcare stocks, while U.S markets had gained slightly.
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TORONTO — Canada's main stock index fell after a mixed day that saw losses in materials and healthcare stocks, while U.S markets had gained slightly.

Allan Small, senior investment adviser at IA Private Wealth, said equity markets were largely driven by a new batch of earnings reports this week.

“We’ve had a slew of earnings that came in at the higher end of expectations,” said Small, who said U.S. banks and airlines had promising results, and tech stocks for companies such as Twitter Inc. are expected to roll in tonight.

“We’re seeing the market really bounce back from Monday’s selloff to now going on to our third day of gains. There were a lot of fears around the resurgence of COVID and for whatever reason it looks like the market put that aside and bought the dips.”

Gains in the U.S. Thursday were more meager than the previous two days, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 25.08 points at 34,823.08 in New York. The S&P 500 index was up 8.85 points at 4,367.54, while the Nasdaq composite was up 52.65 points at 14,684.60.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 12.53 points at 20,097.52.

Materials stocks weighed on the TSX with that index down 1.64 points to 312.48, while the exchange’s gold index was down by 2.43 points to 295.43. 

That was despite the August gold contract being up US$2 at US$1,805.40 an ounce and the September copper contract up 6.6 cents at US$4.34 a pound.

Healthcare stocks also pulled the index down, with cannabis companies like Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Tilray Inc. facing losses of more than 4 per cent in the stock values. 

“There was nothing to get too excited about today,” said Small.

“Overall, I think the markets are kind of flat, because you do have a bit of a down day in banks, a bit of an up day in oil and a flat day in materials.”

The September crude oil contract was up US$1.61 at US$71.91 per barrel, although that didn’t have a large impact on Canadian energy stocks, with the TSX’s energy index flat with a drop of less than a point. The August natural gas contract was up 4.4 cents at US$4 per mmBTU.

Meanwhile in the U.S., Small said he’s continuing to watch bond yields, which have had large movements in the benchmark 10-year rate.

The yield dropped 0.02 per cent to 1.271 per cent on the 10-year Treasury bond after two days rebounding from its lowest level in recent months at 1.19 per cent earlier this week.

That rate had been as high as 1.7 per cent in May

“Bond rates are moving a lot, which is really unordinary,” said Small, saying it signalled confusion in the market.

“You’re talking about the largest market in the world in the U.S., to see their treasuries moving as much as they have as quickly as they have is definitely something to point out.”

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD, TSX: ACB, TSX: TLRY)

Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press