Jennifer Dowty, Chartered Financial Analyst, writes exclusively for Globe Unlimited subscribers.
North American markets opened strongly down this morning after the resounding 'no' vote in Greece, but soon recovered some of those losses and ended only modestly lower. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 88.82 points, or 0.6 per cent, while the S&P 500 was down 8.02 points, or 0.39 per cent.
In terms of sectors, the energy sector was the worst performer, down 2.7 per cent. There wasn't widespread panic in the market. In fact only 61 million shares were traded halfway through the trading day. Typically, around 100 million shares should have traded at midday as the average daily volume is just under 200 million shares.
This weekend's vote has left a lot of uncertainty in its wake. Ultimately, it still isn't known whether a Greece debt deal will be reached, or whether the country will be exiting the euro zone. However, given the crisis in Greece, markets are digesting the news rather well. Investors are not panicking.
All parties involved in the Greece crisis have an interest in reaching a resolution. The new Greek Finance Minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, may steady the way for a deal to be reached. The coming days will be pivotal.
Ultimately, the spillover risk of a Greek exit appear less of a risk for North American markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a record high on May 19 and is only down 3.4 per cent since then. I believe once the dust settles in Greece, North American equity markets will continue to rally higher.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is increasingly likely to keep rates on hold until December with the latest non-farm payroll data coming in slightly weaker than expected and, more importantly, downward revisions to the prior months. This data placed the Federal Reserve in position of no urgency to take immediate action in raising interest rates.
As well, the U.S. earnings season kicks off on Wednesday, with Alcoa reporting after the close. Investor attention may shift to earnings and outlooks for the second-half of the year. In addition, merger and acquisition activity continues to support equity markets.
In Canada, oil stocks should be a concern for investors since it accounts for roughly one-fifth of the S&P/TSX composite index. Crude oil is down over 5 per cent today, and down over 12 per cent in less than two weeks.
There are a number of factors weighing against oil, including a stronger U.S. dollar against major currencies as investors flock to the safety of the greenback. There are also ongoing negotiations for a potential nuclear deal with Iran. If a deal is reached, additional oil supply could hit the already oversupplied market, putting additional pressure on oil prices.
John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, indicated that reaching a deal was uncertain, "At this point, this negotiation could go either way. If hard choices get made in the next couple of days, and made quickly, we could get an agreement this week, but if they are not made, we will not."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration last week released its weekly oil inventory report. The report showed a build in oil inventories of 2.4 million barrels, while the Street was anticipating a decline. The report showed that inventories remain near levels not seen for this time of the year in at least the last 80 years. Meanwhile, U.S. rig count data released last week showed an increase in U.S. oil rigs, the first increase in months and negative for oil. Lastly, China's economic slowdown is also a concern as it will suppress demand for oil. The Chinese economic slowdown has also put pressure on copper prices and base metal producers.
The active New York futures contract for oil broke the U.S. $54 level this afternoon. The next technical support level is in the $51 range.
Here's the Bottom Line: North American markets will be resilient. Volatility in the markets in the coming days may present attractive buying opportunities for investors. But energy continues to be a sector to avoid. I suspect this earnings season will be another tough quarter for energy companies.