TORONTO – Jitters over the possibility that Britain may exit the European Union continued to weigh on equity markets Tuesday, with North American indexes on both sides of the border adding to multi-day retreats.
The S&P/TSX index in Toronto declined 109.65 points to 13,884.23 as Canada’s main stock market fell for the fifth consecutive session, with most sectors finishing in negative territory.
Metals and mining and the materials sectors were the biggest drags, while the telecom, health-care and consumer discretionary sectors managed minimal gains.
New York markets were also lower for a fourth consecutive day amid polls showing a growing possibility that Britain may vote to break away from the EU in next week’s referendum.
“The Brexit situation really was up and alive over a month ago,” said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investments. “But no one really reacted to it until just recently. People are now realizing, there is a chance that the U.K. could leave.”
On Wall Street, the widely-watched Dow Jones industrials pulled back 57.66 points to 17,674.82, while the broader S&P 500 composite fell 3.74 points to 2,075.32 and the Nasdaq composite shed 4.89 points to 4,843.55.
Adatia said the outcome of the two-day policy-rate meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve also looms over traders. The central bank will deliver its decision on interest rates on Wednesday, although most believe it will wait at least another month before a hike.
“What people are watching to see what is the statement going forward. Is it going to lean toward a July rate hike or a September rate hike or more economically driven data? Are they going to be more hawkish or dovish?” he said.
Bond yields continued to decline as investors sought safety ahead of the Fed meeting and the vote in Britain. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.60 per cent from 1.61 per cent Monday, trading at yields not seen since 2012.
In Europe, benchmark German government bond yields fell below zero per cent for the first time in history, a signal that skittish investors are willing to pay to park their money in investments they consider super-safe.
Meanwhile, the oil-sensitive loonie was down for the fourth straight day, dipping 0.28 of a U.S. cent to 77.80 cents US as the July contract for North American benchmark crude lost 39 cents to US$48.49 a barrel.
Elsewhere in commodities, July natural gas rose two cents to US$2.60 per mmBtu, while August gold added $1.20 to US$1,288.10 a troy ounce and July copper slipped a penny to US$2.04 a pound.
— With files from The Associated Press
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