S&P/TSX composite down on broad-based decline led by energy; loonie rises again

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index dropped for the first time in four trading sessions on a broad-based decline led by the energy sector.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 98.71 points to 17,916.20.

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"It's a bit of an uneventful day after the really big day which was yesterday in the market," said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at HollisWealth.

Nine of the 11 major sectors on the TSX were lower, including its three largest: financials, energy and materials.

Energy dropped 1.5 per cent on a dip in crude oil prices as U.S. weekly inventories increased.

The March crude oil contract was down 18 cents at US$53.13 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down 3.6 cents at US$2.50 per mmBTU.

Shares of Whitecap Resources Inc., Enerplus Corp. and Vermilion Energy Inc. lost 4.2, 3.9 and 3.4 per cent, respectively.

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.20 cents US compared with 79.01 cents US on Wednesday. It reached a near three-year high of 79.43 in earlier trading.

"Overall I think it's just a blah day. It's a day where people take a step back, take some profits off the table in some areas," Small said in an interview.

The heavyweight financials sector lost 0.5 per cent with Laurentian Bank and Bank of Montreal down 1.4 per cent.

Materials was also lower on a dip in metals prices.

The February gold contract was down 60 cents US at US$1,865.90 an ounce and the March copper contract was up less than a penny at nearly US$3.65 a pound.

Industrials fell as CAE Inc. and Air Canada shares lost 4.1 and 3.8 per cent, respectively.

Only utilities and telecommunications were higher.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 12.37 points at 31,176.01. The S&P 500 index was up 1.22 points at 3,853.07.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite climbed 73.67 points to 13,530.92 after hitting a record high of 13,560.35 in earlier trading.

It was pushed up by Intel Corp. and Apple Inc.

However, Canada's tech sector fell, led by a 10.8 per cent drop in shares of Docebo Inc.

"I think there's anticipation that some of these big tech names over the next week or two are going to report a pretty good quarter and I think the market's rising on that," said Small.

He attributed the lofty stock market in January to expectations of growing vaccinations in the United States along with President Joe Biden's US$1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

These are offsetting unemployment benefit claims, which reached 900,000 last week due to the surge in COVID infections and lockdowns.

"I think we (markets) move higher as vaccines, especially in the U.S., come out quicker, more of them ... and the system is fixed I think we are going to see better days ahead for sure."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:WCP, TSX:ERF, TSX:VET, TSX:LB, TSX:BMO, TSX:DCBO, TSX:CAE, TSX:AC,TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

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