Toronto index slips as U.S. inflation fans fears of aggressive rate hikes

·2 min read
The Toronto Stock Exchange sing is seen in Toronto

By Amal S

(Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Friday, as stronger-than-expected U.S. consumer price data stoked fears that the Federal Reserve would continue with its aggressive policy tightening to tame soaring inflation.

At 9:44 a.m. ET (13:44 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 183.47 points, or 0.89%, at 20,380.42 and set for a weekly drop, ending its three-week winning streak.

The Labor Department's report showed U.S. consumer price index (CPI) accelerated to 1% in May from 0.3% in April, while on an annual basis it increased at a blistering 8.6% as gasoline prices hit a record high and the cost of services rose further.

"While some investors might have had expectations that inflation was in the process of peaking, the numbers in fact were hotter than anticipated and that is driving the market lower today," said Brandon Michael, senior investment analyst at ABC Funds.

Investors are shifting their focus to the Federal Reserve's meeting and trading should remain volatile until the central bank's interest rate announcement and commentary, Michael added.

The Fed meet is scheduled for June 14-15 and investors are concerned that inflation hovering just below a four-decade high may push the bank to accelerate its withdrawal of pandemic-era policy support.

Healthcare and technology shares fell nearly 2% each, leading losses in the index.

The financials sector slipped 1.2%, while industrials fell 1.1%.

Soaring inflation and concerns around aggressive policy tightening have roiled global markets in the last week, pushing the benchmark index towards its first weekly drop in four.

The energy sector dropped 1.2%, while the materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.4%. [GOL/]

Meanwhile, Canada's economy gained a net 39,800 jobs in May, entirely in full-time work, Statistics Canada said. The jobless rate edged down to 5.1%, a record low.

Canadian industries ran at 82.0% of capacity in the first quarter of 2022, on par with a downwardly revised 82.0% in the fourth quarter of 2021, Statistics Canada said.

(Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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