S&P/TSX composite falls to 11-week low despite energy gains as oil peaks above US$78

·4 min read

TORONTO — A big drop in the technology sector led Canada's main stock index to fall to its lowest level since July even as energy rose as crude oil prices hit highs not seen since 2014.

Stock markets are taking a breather from what has been a strong 2021 amid a broader rotation away from growth areas toward cyclical and value names as long-term bond yields rise, says Craig Fehr, investment strategist, Edward Jones.

"If you look below the surface of the declines, what's playing out is higher interest rates are taking their toll on growth investments, particularly technology stocks, which is where the most acute weakness is within the market," he said in an interview.

The 10-year U.S. treasury was flattish on the day but the 10-year rate in Canada moved slightly above the U.S. rate for the first time an awhile.

"Long-term interest rates are higher, reflecting obviously ongoing inflation pressures and expectations for less stimulus from central banks, but I think it's also reflecting the fact that the economic recovery is going to regain a bit of momentum as we move through the end of 2021 and into next year."

He also noted that smaller companies outpaced large-cap names, signalling that the market isn't as worried about the economic recovery and instead is repricing the longer term outlooks of various sectors.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 98.62 points to 20,052.25, the lowest level since July 20, after falling below 20,000 in earlier trading.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 323.54 points at 34,002.92. The S&P 500 index was down 56.58 points at 4,300.46, while the Nasdaq composite was down 311.22 points or 2.1 per cent at 14,255.48.

Canada's health-care and tech sectors were the laggards on the day, losing three and 2.8 per cent, respectively.

Cannabis producers Tilray Inc. and Canopy Growth Corp. each lost 4.1 per cent.

Lightspeed Commerce Inc. plunged 8.5 per cent and Shopify Inc. was down 3.1 per cent.

Industrials and financials were among nine sectors that lost ground. Among the few financial companies bucking the trend Monday was Sun Life Financial Inc., which gained 2.4 per cent after announcing a deal to buy U.S. dental benefits provider DentaQuest for $3.1 billion.

Energy and materials were the winners as commodity prices moved higher.

Energy was up two per cent with Enerplus Corp. gaining 4.2 per cent, followed by MEG Energy Corp. at 3.3 per cent and Crescent Point Energy Corp. at up 3.2 per cent.

The November crude contract was up US$1.74 at US$77.62 per barrel after reaching a high of US$78.38 and the November natural gas contract was up 14.7 cents at US$5.77 per mmBTU.

That propelled the loonie to a one-month high. The Canadian dollar traded for 79.47 cents US compared with 79.03 cents US on Friday.

Materials also climbed as the December gold contract was up US$9.20 at US$1,767.60 an ounce and the December copper contract was up five cents at US$4.24 a pound.

Commodity prices are increasing on a more robust demand outlook, said Fehr.

For oil, continued price increases are a signal about the the global recovery and supply, including from OPEC and its allies, not being able to keep pace.

Fehr expects some market volatility to stay around for a while but there's some signals that "the economic soft patch" is abating a bit heading into year-end.

He said the sour start to the week should be put into a larger context where markets are only a couple of per cent away from all-time highs despite Monday's declines and last week's pullback.

"Even with this renewed volatility that's raised investor anxiety slightly, it's a reflection of just how strong equity markets have been so far this year that we're still up, with healthy gains, even despite the the recent dip."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021.


Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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