TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index ended higher on Friday on gains in banks and gold miners, but recorded its third straight week of heavy losses as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s signal of a coming pullback of its easy money policy spooked investors.
The change in Fed direction outlined on Wednesday sent shockwaves through the financial system, with bond yields spiking and global stock markets suffering a two-day plunge.
Trading on Friday swung widely as markets sought to stabilize. The Toronto index rose as high as 12,067.54 and at one point fell to 11,935.72.
“We’ve been used to (the volatility). A fact of life for markets today. We’re going into a new environment and no one likes uncertainty,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
“The reality has set in that tighter money, higher rates are in the offing. Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to address some of the problems which prompted the easing, therefore, the volatility,” Ing said.
The index’s financial group edged up 0.1 percent on a rebound in bank shares, but weakness among insurance companies offset gains.
Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) slid 2.2 percent to C$30.19, while Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) declined 0.5 percent to C$16.72. Among the banks, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) gained 0.8 percent to C$81.30, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) added 0.8 percent to C$55.83.
The materials sector rose 1.3 percent as heavyweight gold mining stocks Goldcorp Inc. G.TO and Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) both gained even though bullion had its sharpest weekly drop in nearly two years. <GOL/>
“Our sense is the market is very jittery, very skittish, and as a consequence they’re looking more toward the short term,” said Irwin Michael, a portfolio manager at ABC Funds. “On balance our sense is that our market is a little oversold. The latter part of yesterday was just pandemonium.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 27.09 points, or 0.23 percent, at 11,995.66. Six of the index’s 10 main groups were positive.
Energy stocks dipped 0.03 percent on weaker oil prices, led lower by TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO)’s 2.2 percent fall to C$46.00, and by Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), which fell 0.8 percent to C$29.37. Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO) lost 0.9 percent to trade at C$29.58.
Canadian stocks, heavily weighted with resource companies that depend on a growing world economy, might not bounce back quickly from this week’s Fed shock, some analysts said.
“I don’t think, when people look at the Toronto market and they look at what drives it, that they are going to rush back in” as the Chinese economy splutters and the greenback rises, said Gareth Watson, vice president of investment management and research at Richardson GMP.
“It has to do with that composition of the TSX index,” he said. The energy sector and the mining-heavy materials sector together account for more than 38 percent of the index.
Editing by Peter Galloway and Dan Grebler