S&P/TSX composite falls, loonie drops after Bank of Canada warns of risks

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index moved lower on economic growth concerns, while the loonie fell after the Bank of Canada warned of risks but left interest rates unchanged.

The Federal Reserve's latest survey of business conditions, called the "Beige Book," pointed to slower economic activity in July and August, mostly related to growing worries about COVID-19 variants.

September is a seasonally weak time of the year while a slowdown raises concerns for companies that have lapped easy comparisons from the prior year when activity was suppressed by the virus.

"Those are things that should be broadly understood by the market, but nonetheless, when they come out, you certainly do see pressure on equities, and that's what we're seeing today," said Mike Archibald, vice-president and portfolio manager with AGF Investments Inc.

The S&P/TSX composite index lost 64.84 points to 20,741.79.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 68.93 points at 35,031.07. The S&P 500 index was down 5.96 points at 4,514.07 while the Nasdaq composite was down 87.69 points at 15,286.64.

The S&P 500 was down for a third-straight session, possibly a signal that buyers are getting tired after markets have climbed about 20 per cent this year, Archibald said in an interview.

"I've been expecting that we would see some consolidation in the marketplace for a while. It hasn't happened. So maybe we're getting to a point in time where the buyers just kind of spent all their money and they're just going to be a little bit patient here and so, let's just see what happens over the coming days," he said.

Archibald described the mid-week market decrease as a "run of the mill pullback" that is expected of equity markets.

"It's not like we're getting a real huge correction here. It's just a little bit of broad, broad-based weakness in broader equity markets."

Growth stocks and the resources sector were under pressure on Wednesday.

The technology sector was also weaker, losing 1.3 per cent. A report about Amazon developing a point of sale system for third-party sellers pushed Shopify Inc. down 3.6 per cent and Lightspeed off 1.8 per cent.

Energy lost nearly one per cent even though crude oil prices rose and natural gas prices surged to their highest level in seven years.

The September crude oil contract was up 95 cents at US$69.30 per barrel and the October natural gas contract was up 35 cents or 7.6 per cent at US$4.91 per mmBTU.

That helped Tourmaline Oil Corp., which gained 2.4 per cent, but Crescent Point Energy Corp. shares lost 2.9 per cent.

Natural gas prices were helped by inventory concerns for the coming winter after a hot summer that elevated air conditioner use.

"To the extent that inventories are starting to get drawn down, there could be a bit of a shortage in the winter season, and so you saw a big move back up to seven-year highs on natural gas prices," Archibald said.

The loonie fell after the Bank of Canada warned about risks even as it kept its interest rate unchanged. The Canadian dollar traded for 78.89 cents US compared with 79.23 cents US on Tuesday.

The central bank warned the fourth wave of the pandemic and supply bottlenecks could weigh on the economic recovery. Yet it continues to expect the economy to strengthen in the second half of the year.

Archibald doubts bank governor Tiff Macklem will say much during a Thursday speech given that the country's in the midst of a federal election.

"He doesn't want to appear to be politicking with respect to central bank policy, but it would seem likely to me that they'll probably take down guidance on growth in Canada after the election."

Materials was down 1.1 per cent with First Quantum Minerals Ltd. off 7.5 per cent and Hudbay Minerals Inc. down six per cent.

The December gold contract was down US$5.00 at US$1,793.50 an ounce and the September copper contract was down 4.9 cents at US$4.23 a pound.

Health care decreased 2.8 per cent as shares of Canopy Growth Corp. lost six per cent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:WEED, TSX:TOU, TSX:CPG, TSX:SHOP, TSX:LSPD, TSX:FM, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD)

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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