TSX dips slightly despite signing of revised North American free trade deal

TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index dipped slightly Tuesday despite the signing of a revised North American free trade deal.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 0.15 of a point at 16,950.70.

The trade deal didn’t impact the market despite the generally positive changes for labour in Mexico and a tighter definition of what constitutes North American steel.

“Obviously that’s a positive thing on this NAFTA front because that’s been going on for awhile now, so it’s better to have something than nothing,” said Brian See, portfolio manager at CIBC Asset Management.

American markets were also lower on conflicting comments about the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

China expects the U.S. to delay Sunday’s scheduled imposition of US$156 billion of addition tariffs, including consumer imports. But the U.S. side later pushed back, leaving investors uncertain.

“That kind of explains why there’s this holding pattern right now,” See said in an interview.

Continuing conflicting comments have made investors “desensitized,” prompting them to take a wait-and-see approach while the two countries try to reach a preliminary deal.

“At least they’re talking and hopefully they can come to some sort of agreement because that’s what the markets want. Uncertainty is always a bad thing,” See said.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 27.88 points at 27,881.72. The S&P 500 index was down 3.44 points at 3,132.52, while the Nasdaq composite was down 5.65 points at 8,616.18.

The Canadian dollar traded for 75.57 cents US compared with an average of 75.56 cents US on Monday.

The energy sector was the biggest gainer on the day, increasing by half a per cent as shares of Crescent Point Energy Corp. and Cenovus Energy Inc. climbed 4.6 and 2.2 per cent respectively.

The January crude contract was up 22 cents at US$59.24 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up 3.2 cents at US$2.26 per mmBTU.

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. gained 6.8 per cent and helped to push materials higher as metals prices rose.

The February gold contract was up US$3.20 at US$1,468.10 an ounce and the March copper contract was up 0.7 of a cent at US$2.77 a pound.

Health care was down 1.8 per cent as several cannabis producers lost ground, including the Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd., Canopy Growth Corp., Hexo Corp. and Aurora Cannabis Inc.

The influential financials sector was also lower as several Canadian banks saw their shares dip after Canada’s federal banking regulator said it was increasing the amount of capital they must hold as a protective buffer against vulnerabilities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2019.


Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press