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Canada’s main stock index opened slightly lower on Wednesday as worries over the escalating trade war between the United States and China weighed on investor sentiment.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 13.69 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 16,080.56.

The Canadian dollar edged higher against the greenback on Wednesday, holding on to gains from the day before as oil prices rose and domestic data showed that industries operated at a lower-than-expected percentage of production capacity.

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The loonie was boosted on Tuesday by increased optimism that a deal to renew the North American Free Trade Agreement would be reached.

Canada is ready to offer the United States limited access to the Canadian dairy market as a concession in negotiations to rework NAFTA, two Canadian sources with direct knowledge of Ottawa’s negotiating strategy said on Tuesday.

Canadian industries ran at 85.5 per cent of capacity in the second quarter, up from a downwardly revised 83.7 per cent in the first quarter, Statistics Canada said. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast a rate of 86.9 per cent.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, extended Tuesday’s rally after a drop in U.S. crude inventories and as the prospect of the loss of Iranian supply added to concerns over the delicate balance between consumption and production.

The price of U.S. crude was up 1.1 per cent at $70.04 a barrel.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.1 per cent higher at $1.3059 to the greenback, or 76.58 U.S. cents.

The currency’s weakest level of the session was $1.3079, while it matched Tuesday’s strongest level since Sept. 3 of $1.3042.

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The Dow Industrials and the S&P 500 opened flat on Wednesday as a rise in shares of energy companies helped offset losses in technology stocks, which weighed on the Nasdaq.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18.01 points, or 0.07 per cent, at the open to 25,989.07.

The S&P 500 opened higher by 0.40 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 2,888.29. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 13.60 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 7,958.87 at the opening bell.

Shares of Apple fell 0.5 per cent in early trading, ahead of an event at 1 p.m. ET.

Wall Street is more focused on the price hikes for the latest line of iPhones as Apple looks to sustain revenue growth from its signature product even as global demand for smartphones plateau.

Shares of energy companies were among the top gainers on the S&P 500 as oil prices hovered near $80 per barrel on growing concern over global supply.

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The oil price rallied towards its highest level this year on Wednesday, after a drop in U.S. crude inventories and as the prospect of the loss of Iranian supply added to concerns over the delicate balance between consumption and production.

Brent crude futures were last up 41 cents on the day at $79.47 a barrel, having touched a session peak of $79.66, the highest since late May, when the price pushed above $80. U.S. crude futures rose 91 cents to $70.16 a barrel.

“We think oil market fundamentals are increasingly supportive of crude prices, at least at current levels,” said Gordon Gray, HSBC’s global head of oil and gas equity research.

“While we aren’t explicitly forecasting Brent to rise to $100 a barrel, we see real risks of this happening. The fact that much higher supply is already needed from the likes of Saudi Arabia - and the low levels of spare capacity remaining - leave the global system highly vulnerable to any further significant outage.”

U.S. crude inventories are expected to have fallen by 800,000 barrels in the latest week, according to a Reuters survey. Data published by the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday showed a fall of 8.6 million barrels.

Outside the United States, traders have been focusing on the impact of U.S. sanctions against Iran that will target oil exports from November.

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“Iran is increasingly becoming the preoccupation of the crude market. The last couple of weeks have seen the expected squeeze on Iranian crude flows taking shape, with overall outflows down markedly,” consultant JBC Energy said.

Reuters

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