TORONTO – Canada’s biggest stock market pulled back for the fourth straight day Tuesday as investors question whether they can continue to shrug off signs of tepid global growth.
Toronto’s S&P/TSX composite index declined 31.49 points to 13,304.66, with the consumer staples and utilities sectors among the biggest losers.
Precious and base metals miners were the biggest gainers on the resource-heavy market, with the gold sector up nearly four per cent.
“The markets are being driven by the macro stuff,” said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investment.
“They realize there is more downside here and they have to decide if they want to take on the risk — and maybe realizing that it’s not worth it.”
Adatia said global economic factors may be showing signs of improvement, but it’s not enough to support a bullish outlook on equities.
“Right now, people are going to say, ‘I’m going to wait until some of this stuff passes by,'” he said.
The negative sentiment ran through currency markets, as the Canadian dollar lost half a cent. It ended the day 0.49 of a U.S. cent lower at 75.90 cents US.
The downward pressure came on the same day the Bank of Canada issued a positive take on the country’s ability to ride out any economic shocks from China, its second-largest trading partner.
Senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins said if growth in China’s economy comes in one percentage point lower than projections — then Canadian growth would slip just one-tenth of a percentage point. A effect of a similar decline in the U.S. would be six times greater, she said.
The comments come on the back of worse-than-expected trade figures.
Statistics Canada reported that the country’s trade deficit grew to $1.9 billion in February. Economists had expected a deficit of $900 million, according to Thomson Reuters.
Meanwhile, bearish comments from the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, helped push U.S. indexes further into the red.
She noted that while the world economy isn’t in a crisis, slow growth risks becoming ingrained as a “new mediocre” and that the outlook the next six months has weakened.
The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 133.68 points to 17,603.32, while the broader S&P 500 slid 20.96 points to 2,0458.17 and the Nasdaq composite fell 47.86 points to 4,843.93.
In commodities, the May contract for benchmark North American crude added 19 cents to US$35.89 a barrel, recouping some of the losses from two days.
May natural gas plunged four cents to US$1.94 per mmBtu, while May copper was unchanged at US$2.14 a pound. June gold rebounded $10.30 to US$1,229.60 a troy ounce.
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