S&P/TSX composite falls despite strong jobs report, but up for a third-straight week


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TORONTO - Canada's main stock index fell on Friday despite a strong jobs report in February but still ended higher for a third straight week as the Ukraine war continued to spawn volatility and push oil prices higher.

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TORONTO – Canada’s main stock index fell on Friday despite a strong jobs report in February but still ended higher for a third straight week as the Ukraine war continued to spawn volatility and push oil prices higher.

Greg Taylor, chief investment officer of Purpose Investments, attributed the day’s loss to some profit-taking heading into the weekend.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty with if there’s any peace talks or what’s going on with the Russian-Ukraine situation, and then next week we get the Fed meeting in which everyone’s expecting them to hike 25 basis points,” he said in an interview.

Falling Canadian dollar coins or loonies are pictured in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

After a slight morning gain, the S&P/TSX composite progressively lost ground all day to close down 119.87 points to 21,461.83 for a 59-point increase for the week.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down for a fifth-straight week, losing 229.88 points at 32,944.19. The S&P 500 index was down 55.21 points at 4,204.31, while the Nasdaq composite was down 286.15 points or 2.2 per cent at 12,843.81.

There’s been a big divergence lately between the Toronto-based market, which is up 1.1 per cent year-to-date, and U.S. exchanges that are down between about nine and 18 per cent.

The main cause for the disparity has been rising commodity prices and weakened growth sectors like technology that make up a large portion of U.S. markets.

After some recent gains, materials lost ground Friday as gold prices dropped amid some profit-taking, said Taylor. Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. led the way by losing 6.4 per cent.

The April gold contract was down US$15.40 at US$1,985.00 an ounce and the May copper contract was down 2.7 cents at US$4.63 a pound.

Technology was also lower with Hut 8 Mining Corp. dropping 8.0 per cent, Lightspeed Commerce Inc. off 7.3 per cent and Shopify Inc. 1.9 per cent lower.

Real estate was the best performing sector on the day while energy edged higher as crude prices continued to rise. Imperial Oil increased 1.9 per cent and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. was nearly one per cent higher.

The April crude oil contract was up US$3.31 at US$109.33 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was up 9.4 cents at US$4.73 per mmBTU.

After a strong run to start 2022, crude prices ended down 5.5 per cent for the week.

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.62 cents US compared with 78.27 cents US on Thursday.

The loonie rose after Statistics Canada reported a gain of 337,000 jobs in February, more than offsetting the loss of 200,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 per cent, falling below the 5.7 per cent level where it was at before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it just adds more credence to the fact that the Bank of Canada is going to be more aggressive over the year with their rate hikes,” said Taylor.

He said the European Central Bank’s unexpected hawkishness this week also adds to the belief that the U.S. Federal Reserve will take a similar stand in commentary at its crucial meeting this week.

“It could be an event that starts to turn the markets higher,” he said, noting that nervousness heading into these meetings tends to stabilize once the central bank’s direction is given.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2022.


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