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S&P/TSX composite falls to end six-day winning streak after hitting record highs

TORONTO — Rising commodity prices couldn't keep Canada's main stock index from breaking a six-day winning streak in which it reached record highs.
Bay Street in Canada's financial district is shown in Toronto on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO — Rising commodity prices couldn't keep Canada's main stock index from breaking a six-day winning streak in which it reached record highs.

"We've had a pretty nice move here in the last six trading days, so a little digestion let's call it today," said Mike Archibald, vice-president and portfolio manager with AGF Investments Inc.

There was "not a ton of economic and macro news out there," he said, which meant the drop was likely driven by profit-taking.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 142.17 points to 21,932.18, a low for the day.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 448.96 points at 34,358.50. The S&P 500 index was down 55.37 points at 4,456.24, while the Nasdaq composite was down 186.22 points at 13,922.60.

The market movements came as a pipeline outage in Russia and lower U.S. crude inventories pushed oil prices higher, along with anticipation that U.S. President Joe Biden will possibly announce in Europe further sanctions against Russia for its attack of Ukraine.

"All these things are just contributing to a little bit of market angst today," Archibald said in an interview.

Energy was the best performer on the day, gaining 1.9 per cent as crude prices increased 5.2 per cent with shares of Whitecap Resources Inc. up 3.1 per cent.

The May crude contract increased US$5.66 at US$114.93 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was up 4.5 cents at US$5.23 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.55 cents US compared with 79.44 cents US on Tuesday.

Materials was also stronger with shares of Yamana Gold Inc. increasing 4.2 per cent as U.S. 10-year bond yields fell to 2.377 per cent from the 2.417 per cent session high Wednesday, the highest level since May 2019.

The April gold contract was up US$15.80 at US$1,937.30 an ounce and the May copper contract was up 7.7 cents at US$4.78 a pound.

Technology was one of nine sectors that lost ground. It lost 2.3 per cent as shares of Shopify Inc. fell 3.1 per cent. But that's after a 41 per cent gain in the last six days in which the company's shares climbed to a high of about $922 from a low of $655.

The heavyweight financials sector lost two per cent on the lower yields and the impact of BMO announcing Tuesday evening a share offering that is expected to generate at least $2.7 billion in gross proceeds to help fund its acquisition of Bank of the West in the U.S.

"I think there's some pressure on all the bank stocks just to kind of absorb that deal into people's portfolios today."

North American stock markets have gyrated in recent days as investors digested comments by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell about aggressively raising interest rates to fight inflation.

Archibald said it was "a bit perplexing" to see bond yields and equities move higher in recent days, not a typical pattern.

Added the mix were comments Tuesday from St. Louis Fed president James Bullard, the central bank's most hawkish member, who called for rates to reach three per cent this year.

While people focus mostly on Powell, who sets the tone of the Fed, Bullard's comments add to some worries in the marketplace since it's unclear if stocks will do well in the next 12 months if rates increase five, six or seven times.

"The Federal Reserve historically in the last several decades has always blinked when the equity market has basically called their bluff and so it remains to be seen if that's the same thing that's going to happen moving forward, or if he [Powell] truly is going to aggressively fight inflation."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2022.


Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version included incorrect stock market closing figures.