TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell on Thursday as a tumble in oil prices stung energy producers and bucking bond markets had investors backing away from utilities and pipelines.
Investors are jittery about a slew of unresolved issues in global financial markets, including uncertainty around when the U.S. economy will be judged strong enough to merit Federal Reserve rate hikes.
“The bond markets are forcing investors’ hands, they are making a move ahead of any central bank rate hikes that may or may not come over the next year or two,” said Elvis Picardo, a strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.
“With higher yields you’re paying more for debt,” he said. That hurts debt-reliant sectors such as utilities, which fell 2 percent, and pipelines such as Enbridge Inc ENB.TO, the heaviest individual weight on the index with a 1.9 percent retreat to C$59.19.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 135.29 points, or 0.89 percent, at 15,019.39. All 10 main sectors on the index fell.
Crude oil fell ahead of a key producer meeting, base metals prices retreated on concerns about slipping Chinese growth, and Greece and its creditors talked some more.
“There are so many things overhanging the market right now, we’ve got an OPEC meeting, we’ve got Greece, we’ve got economic reports coming out, you name it,” said Rick Hutcheon, president at RKH Investments, adding that volumes were also drying up.
“We’re just stuck in this funk right now until we get some clarity as to where any of these issues are going to fall out.”
Materials, which includes miners and fertilizer companies, retreated 1.2 percent. Potash Corp POT.TO fell 1.7 percent to C$38.50, while Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO lost 2.1 percent to C$14.63.
The energy group retreated 1.4 percent. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd CNQ.TO declined 0.7 percent to C$37.72 and TransCanada Corp TRP.TO gave up 2 percent to C$51.77.
Global’s Picardo said slips in recently booming large-cap stocks such as Valeant Pharmaceuticals VRX.TO, which fell 2.3 percent at C$291.17, were adding to the malaise.
“Once those leaders start turning around and heading south it makes it really difficult for the index to hold up.”
Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish