September 17, 2015 / 11:43 AM / 2 years ago

TSX listless ahead of Fed rate decision

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock slipped in lackluster trade ahead of a pivotal U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate decision due later on Thursday.

The Fed will announce the outcome of its policy meeting and release its latest economic projections at 2 p.m. ET, followed by a news conference by Chair Janet Yellen at 2:30 p.m.

The event, which has several plausible possible outcomes, will likely determine trading directions across asset classes. In the meantime, global markets were jittery and little changed.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 37.25 points, or 0.27 percent, at 13,726.53.

Canadian companies with operations in the United States or revenues priced in U.S. dollars could get a boost if the Fed hikes rates.

The most influential weights included fertilizer company Potash Corp, which fell 1.6 percent to C$33.10, and Toronto-Dominion Bank which declined 0.6 percent to C$52.85.

But there were only slightly more decliners than advancers overall, and no new 52-week highs or lows. The materials group retreated 1.3 percent, the only one of 10 main sectors to move more than 1 percent in either direction.

U.S. crude prices were down 0.3 percent to $47.01 a barrel, while Brent crude lost 1.0 percent to $49.27. Gold futures fell 0.1 percent to $1,117.9 an ounce. Copper prices advanced 0.3 percent to $5,395 a tonne.

Uncertainty about when the Fed will switch gears has dogged investors for months, further complicated in recent weeks by market turbulence linked to slowing growth in China and worries about the health of the global economy.

Macquarie analysts said investors should look beyond the hike/no-hike binary for signs including guidance via forecast, news conference rhetoric and number of dissenters.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli

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