TSX Makes Modest Gain Despite Slide in Oil Prices
A sense of calm returned to stock markets Wednesday, with major North American indices ending the day relatively unchanged.
The S&P/TSX composite index in Toronto climbed 17.36 points to 14,366.46, supported by strength in the consumer staples and materials sectors.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average slid 31.98 points to 18,034.77, while the Nasdaq gained 18.51 points to 5,173.77. The S&P 500 dipped 1.25 points to 2,125.77.
U.S. indices are at their lowest levels in two months after big losses on Friday and Tuesday.
Stock markets have been turbulent for the past few sessions as traders interpret signs of a weakening global economy amid growing speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve, at a meeting next week, may raise interest rates from record lows.
Allan Small, a senior adviser at HollisWealth, said the recent flip-flopping in stock markets has investors trying to second-guess comments from a number of Fed presidents. Since no other board members are set to speak for the rest of this week, he predicts movements will stay tepid pending any major economic releases.
“On days without a lot of data out there, you’re going to see a type of market without a lot of big gains or losses,” Small said.
He added there seems to be a sense of “nervousness” hanging over stock markets, which will likely stay until next week’s Fed meeting scheduled for Sept. 20-21.
“We’ve been playing this Fed waiting game for quite some time now. I think it’s getting a little long in the tooth,” he said.
“In my opinion, the market could easily digest a Fed rate hike. You might see some bumpiness or a knee-jerk reaction initially but most people will look at it as a sign that the U.S. economy is in a stronger position and I think that’s a good thing.”
Overall, he noted that a rate hike may buoy stock markets because higher interest rates means good news for banks and insurance companies.
In commodities, oil prices continued their slide following concerns that demand for crude will slow down this year.
The October contract for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate was down $1.32 at $43.53 (U.S.).
Elsewhere in commodities, October natural gas contracts lost 2 cents to $2.89 (U.S.) per mmBtu, December gold was up $2.40 to $1,326.10 (U.S.) an ounce and December copper advanced 5 cents to $2.15 (U.S.) a pound.
The Canadian dollar was down 0.16 of a cent to trade at 75.77 cents U.S.