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Canada’s main stock index ended its recent winning streak on Wednesday as lower commodity prices weighed on the energy and materials sectors, but the index clawed back much of its earlier decline in a positive sign for the market’s outlook. The S&P 500 closed nearly unchanged.

The S&P/TSX composite index ended down 3.85 points at 20,680.83, after eight straight days of gains. On Tuesday, it notched its highest closing level in two months.

“We’ve seen some buying coming in any time the market has dipped a little bit,” said Elvis Picardo, a portfolio manager at Luft Financial, iA Private Wealth. “I think that’s an encouraging note.”

The TSX energy sector dropped 0.8% as the price of oil settled 2.1% lower at US$79.16 a barrel, pressured by potential U.S. interest rate hikes that could slow growth and curb oil consumption.

The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners, was also down, falling 1.2%, as gold and copper prices declined.

Helping to cap the TSX’s decline were gains for the industrials and heavily weighted financials sectors. They advanced 0.6% and 0.4% respectively.

On Wall Street, investors digested a mixed bag of corporate earnings, including upbeat reports from medical technology companies, countered by weakness in Netflix shares.

The Dow was weighed down by declines in Walt Disney Co and UnitedHealth Group Inc shares following results from rivals in their respective industries.

Major equity indexes have been largely stable during the early stages of a first-quarter earnings season that investors expect to show tepid results.

“Corporate results are being seen as being in large part company-specific news versus market news,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B Riley Wealth. “If that keeps us relatively calm and unchanged for now, while the sample set of reporters is still quite small, I think that’s a positive.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 79.62 points, or 0.23%, to 33,897.01; the S&P 500 lost 0.35 points, or 0.01%, at 4,154.52; and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.81 points, or 0.03%, at 12,157.23.

The defensive utilities group gained most among S&P 500 sectors, rising 0.8%.

The CBOE Volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, fell to its lowest point since November 2021 during the session.

Investors are looking for signs in corporate results that inflation may be driving up costs or hurting consumer spending, amid fears the economy may be on the cusp of a downturn.

S&P 500 companies overall are expected to post a 4.8% decline in first-quarter earnings from the year-earlier period, according to Refinitiv IBES.

“We seem stuck in this range, with those people who think that there is going to be a recession coming and those people who think there is going to be a soft landing,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments.

Netflix Inc shares slid 3.2% after the video-streaming pioneer offered a lighter-than-expected forecast. Shares of streaming rival Disney slipped 2.2%.

Tesla Inc shares dropped 2% after the electric-vehicle maker’s sixth U.S. price cut this year. Tesla shares slid further in initial after-market trading on Wednesday following the company’s quarterly report.

Shares of Elevance Health Inc fell 5.3% after the insurer’s strong quarterly profit failed to ease investor concerns over regulatory hits to the company’s government-backed insurance business. UnitedHealth shares dropped 3.6%.

Elsewhere in healthcare, Abbott Laboratories shares jumped 7.8% after the medical device maker said most delayed non-urgent medical procedures had resumed globally three years into the COVID-19 pandemic. Intuitive Surgical shares soared 10.9% after its quarterly revenue and profit topped estimates.

Shares of Western Alliance Bancorp surged 24.1% after the company posted stronger-than-expected earnings, helping lift the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF 3.9%.

Regional banks have been in focus after the failure of Silicon Valley Bank last month prompted concerns about systemic risks.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 1.28-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.11-to-1 ratio favored decliners. The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and one new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 59 new highs and 123 new lows. About 10 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 10.6 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Reuters, Globe staff

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