By Fergal Smith
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index edged lower on Monday for the first time in seven trading sessions as investors braced for a Federal Reserve interest rate hike this week, but the index still notched its largest monthly gain in nearly two years.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended down 45.05 points, or 0.2%, at 19,426.14, after six straight days of gains. On Friday, it posted its highest closing level in nearly six weeks.
U.S. stocks also fell, closing out a strong month on a soft note, as investor focus turned to the Fed's policy decision on Wednesday.
The central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates by 75 basis points, but investors will look for any clues that rate hikes are set to decelerate in the future.
"I don't expect volatility to go away, but, I believe we're closer to the end of the rate hike cycles, both in Canada and in the U.S.," said Kevin Headland, co-chief investment strategist at Manulife Investment Management.
"Although we're going to get some choppiness, there could be more of an upward bias and it may continue a bit of the run we're on right now."
The Toronto stock exchange gained 5.3% in October, its biggest monthly advance since November 2020, as higher oil prices boosted energy shares.
Energy rose 1.6% on Monday, lifting its monthly gain to 21.9%, and healthcare ended 4.3% higher as shares of cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corp jumped 18.9%.
Most other sectors lost ground, including declines of 1.2% for both the technology and consumer staples sectors.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson)