TSX falls as financials drop ahead of BoC rate decision

(Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell on Wednesday, as financial shares slipped ahead of an interest rate decision by the Bank of Canada.

FILE PHOTO: A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) stock information is seen in Toronto June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

* At 9:39 a.m. ET (1339 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite index was down 33.97 points, or 0.2 percent, at 16,635.43.

* Canada’s central bank is widely expected to leave its benchmark interest rate at 1.75% when the rate decision is announced at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT).

* Seven of the index’s 11 major sectors were lower, led by a 0.6 percent drop in the financials sector.

* In October, the Bank of Canada hiked rates for the fifth time since July 2017. But the Canadian economy has taken a hit from the province of Alberta’s mandatory production cut of oil, its biggest export, a slowdown in the housing market and wilting business sentiment over worries surrounding the U.S.-China trade war.

* Data from the overnight index swap market implies a greater than 50% chance of a rate cut by December.

* The energy sector dropped 0.2 percent as oil prices eased, but hovered around six-month highs. [O/R]

* On the TSX, 104 issues were higher, while 128 issues declined for a 1.23-to-1 ratio to the downside, with traded volume touhcing 14.32 million shares.

* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Element Fleet Management Corp, which rose 4.8 percent after RBC raised its rating on the company to “outperform”.

* FirstService Corp fell 1.9 percent, the most on the TSX, after reporting quarterly results.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Baytex Energy Co, Cenovus Energy and Bombardier.

* The TSX posted seven new 52-week highs and no new low.

* Across all Canadian issues, there were 37 new 52-week highs and two new lows, with total volume touching 22.35 million shares.

Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel