TORONTO — Market volatility continued with Canada's main stock index posting a triple-digit drop as commodity sectors fell ahead of U.S. inflation numbers that could trigger stimulus tightening by the Federal Reserve.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 151.86 points to 20,925.49 for a second consecutive losing day following two up days.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down six tenths of a point at 35,754.69. The S&P 500 index was down 33.76 points at 4,667.45, while the Nasdaq composite was down 269.62 points or 1.7 per cent at 15,517.37.
"Over the last week-and-a-half a lot of volatility with big up days and big down days. There doesn't seem to be any flat ones or marginal ones here and there and today is another one of the sizable down ones," said Michael Currie, vice-president and investment adviser at TD Wealth.
Thursday's market movements came a day before the release of November consumer price index numbers in the U.S. that are expected to be hot. That could prompt the Fed to aggressively tighten its policy by speeding up its tapering of bond purchases and raising interest rates quicker next year.
Some economic data and news was released Thursday that didn't appear to move markets, Currie said in an interview.
U.S. employment benefits fell to 184,000 last week to reach the lowest level in more than 52 weeks.
And Pfizer and partner BioNTech said Wednesday that a booster of its COVID-19 vaccine may offer protection against the new Omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective.
But Currie said there was conflicting reaction to the news with some saying it's not a big deal while others say it is significant.
After initially being hit hard by concerns about Omicron, stock markets had partially recovered earlier this week on comments that it's not as harmful as originally feared.
Only consumer staples was higher on the day among the 11 major sectors on the TSX.
It rose after grocery retailer Empire Co. Ltd. reported good quarterly results following acquisitions that pumped up sales and a stabilization of shopper behaviour as COVID-19 restrictions were eased across the country.
Health care decreased 3.6 per cent while the energy and materials sectors were off two and 1.7 per cent, respectively, on lower crude oil and metals prices.
Tourmaline Oil Corp. was off 4.2 per cent and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. down 3.1 per cent as crude prices fell on concerns that new pandemic restrictions would hurt oil demand.
"The more we hear about New Zealand, Denmark, U.K. talking about putting more restrictions in, that always pressures the price of oil because we assume there will be less demand," Currie said.
The January crude contract was down US$1.42 at US$70.94 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was essentially flat at US$3.81 per mmBTU.
Prices were affected by a strengthened U.S. dollar that also moved the loonie lower.
The Canadian dollar traded for 78.74 cents US compared with 79.10 cents US on Wednesday.
Materials was driven lower by a 10.2 per cent decrease in shares of Kinross Gold Corp. after it signed an agreement to buy Great Bear Resources Ltd. and its Dixie project in northern Ontario in a deal valued at $1.8 billion in cash and shares.
The February gold contract was down US$8.80 at US$1,776.70 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 6.1 cents at US$4.33 a pound.
The technology sector was also down as an 8.6 per cent decrease in shares of Hut 8 Mining Corp. and 5.1 per cent drop by Lightspeed Commerce Inc. was partially offset by as a 6.1 per cent increase in Nuvei Corp. a day after a short-seller report caused its shares to collapse.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:NVEI, TSX:HUT, TSX:LSPD, TSX:K, TSX:CNQ, TSX:TOU, TSX:EMP.A, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press