TORONTO – Fresh moves by the European Central Bank on its stimulus plans left traders feeling underwhelmed on Thursday and helped pull down North American stock markets.
Toronto’s S&P/TSX index closed the session down 139.15 points at 13,324.67, while the Canadian dollar rose 0.06 of a cent at 74.97 cents U.S.
The ECB announced a reduction in one of its key interest rates as part of an attempt to stimulate lending, but the bank’s cut on commercial bank deposits to negative 0.3 per cent, from the previous 0.2 per cent, was widely received as disappointing.
The announcement caused the euro to jump three per cent against the dollar — a large move.
Meanwhile in the United States, the Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen delivered more comments to solidify expectations of a U.S. interest rate hike later this month.
“The ECB not doing a huge amount today kind of clears the runway for the Fed to do a liftoff for interest rates later this month,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets Canada.
“The way Yellen has been talking this week … they’re going to give it serious consideration.”
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones plunged 252.01 points at 17,477.67, the broader S&P 500 index declined 29.89 points to 2,049.62 and the Nasdaq lost 85.70 points to 5,037.53.
European stocks also had one of their worst days in months. Germany’s DAX plunged 3.6 per cent, its biggest drop since September. France’s CAC-40 index lost 3.6 per cent and the U.K.’s FTSE lost 2.3 per cent.
In commodities, the February gold contract rose $7.40 to US$1,061.20 an ounce, helping make the TSX gold sector one of the sole gainers of the session, rising 1.8 per cent.
The energy sector dropped nearly 0.1 per cent as the January crude contract settled $1.14 higher at US$41.08 per barrel and the January contract for natural gas was ahead 1.6 cents at US$2.18.
Canada’s six biggest banks finished reporting their latest financial results on Thursday, wrapping up another blockbuster period of results. Overall, the banks posted an 11.4 per cent increase in profits to $8.61 billion, despite concerns that a sluggish domestic economy could slow momentum.
The TSX financial sector dropped 1.2 per cent.
On Friday, the latest data on the U.S. jobs market is forecast to show 200,000 new jobs created in November, according to economists.
Canada will issue its November labour force survey, which is expected to show a drop of 30,000 jobs as the oil sector continues to make sweeping cuts to improve results and temporary employment from the federal election winds down.
— with files from The Associated Press.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the energy sector dropped nearly one per cent.