June 21st, 2024

S&P/TSX holds steady despite U.S. market jitters over potential rate hikes

By Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press on February 24, 2023.

A person walks past a TD Bank sign in the financial district in Toronto on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Lupul

Canada’s main stock index held firm Friday, buoyed by sturdy energy and financial sectors despite an initial dip prompted by a jitter-inducing inflation report out of the U.S. Meanwhile, U.S. markets fell Friday.

The S&P/TSX composite index nudged up 31 points to close out the week at 20,219.19.

“The banks and financials, which are 30 per cent of the index, are not getting hit too hard,” said John Zechner, chairman and lead equity manager at J Zechner Associates.

He noted that CIBC, the first of Canada’s big banks to report their latest results, beat expectations for first-quarter adjusted earnings despite a profit drop from a year earlier due to a billion-dollar settlement payout.

“You’ve got the banks hanging in there, and that holds up a lot of the index, even if it’s net zero.”

However, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer spending jumped by the most in nearly two years last month. At the same time, it reported that inflation accelerated, spooking financial markets with the prospect of further interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve well into 2023, Zechner said.

The wake-up call pushed the three big American indexes down by more than one per cent each Friday.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 336.99 points at 32,816.92. The S&P 500 index fell 42.28 points at 3,970.04, while the Nasdaq composite dropped 195.46 points, or 1.7 per cent, at 11,394.94.

“The big news this morning was really that inflation report in the U.S. The market had been vacillating back and forth wanting some evidence that inflation is receding a little bit or maybe the economy slowing down so that the central banks can take their foot off the brakes,” Zechner said.

“The numbers this morning just did not give them that sort of relief.”

Back up north, markets dipped Friday before finding their footing. The TSX energy index was up 1.9 per cent – matching its rise from the day before – offset by weakness in technology, health care and base and battery metals.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.41 cents US, compared with 73.81 cents US on Thursday.

The April crude contract was up 93 cents at US$76.32 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was up 12 cents at US$2.55 mmBTU.

The April gold contract was down US$9.70 at US$1,817.10 an ounce and the May copper contract was down 10 cents at US$3.95 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X, TSX:CM)

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