TSX falls from record high after a week of gains, U.S. markets mixed

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index fell from its record high on a "benign" day in which losses in the financial and telecommunications sectors offset gains in materials and energy.

"I think this is kind of a catch-your-breath moment for the markets," said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets strategist with Edward Jones.

"The TSX and S&P 500 are both within a hair of all-time highs and so today I think we're seeing markets kind of take a deep breath in the wake of the Fed interest rate cut and are surveying both the global economic data and the shifting monetary policy environment."

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 32.49 points at 16,867.20 after hitting an intraday high of 16,892.50, just short of its Friday closing.

Seven of the 10 major sectors on the TSX were down led by telecommunications, which fell nearly one per cent in the first day of trading after Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised a 25 per cent reduction in wireless bills for average Canadian families.

The heavyweight financials sector was off 0.37 per cent as shares of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. lost 1.77 per cent, followed by the Bank of Montreal.

Fehr said bank stocks are facing headwinds because the pace of loans isn't sustainable amid emerging economic weakness.

"I think that's going to continue to be a headwind for banks overall and lest we forget interest rates continue to remain exceptionally low. So while that might be helpful for demand of loans, the profitability of those loans is a little bit impaired by the rate environment," he said in an interview.

Industrials and technology were also lower.

Materials led as the price of gold continued to rise. First Quantum Minerals Ltd. closed up nearly 10 per cent after it denied speculation last week about a possible bid for the company by Chinese mining company Jiangxi Copper Corp. Ltd.

The December gold contract was up US$16.40 at US$1,531.50 an ounce and the December copper contract was up half a cent at US$2.61 a pound.

Energy was up slightly on a lift in crude oil prices that helped Canadian Natural Resources and Encana Corp.

The November crude contract was up 55 cents at US$58.64 per barrel and the November natural gas contract was unchanged at US$2.56 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded for an average of 75.36 cents US compared with an average of 75.33 cents US on Friday.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 14.92 points at 26,949.99. The S&P 500 index was down 0.29 points at 2,991.78, while the Nasdaq composite was down 5.21 points at 8,112.46.

U.S. markets were mixed while European and global equity markets were lower on data showing that Germany continues to grapple with a manufacturing slowdown that is hampering the growth of Europe's largest economy.

In the backdrop are ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China.

Both sides have suggested that last week's meetings were positive even though the Chinese delegation cancelled its tour of U.S. farms.

Barring any major news, the market has interpreted no trade news as being positive, said Fehr.

"The market is really looking for the big deal. The market is waiting to see if there will be some grand compromise which I think ultimately there can be, but I don't think it's happening any time soon."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2019.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CNQ, TSX:ECA, TSX:BAM.A, TSX:BMO, TSX:FM, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

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