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S&P/TSX composite edges higher, U.S. markets mixed

·3 min read

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index edged higher Thursday on gains from consumer staples and metals as investors made defensive moves ahead of a possible pullback.

Beneath the relatively flat market were big defensive moves toward pipelines, precious metals like gold and other safety assets such as 10-year bonds, along with large cap stocks, said Mike Archibald, vice-president and portfolio manager with AGF Investments Inc.

"The broader index isn't doing a lot at the headline level, so the TSX is basically flat ... yet underneath the surface, there continues to be still a lot of volatility from sector to sector," he said in an interview.

Archibald said he's a bit cautious given the seasonal fluctuations and the fact that U.S. company stocks aren't benefiting despite producing strong quarterly results.

"There's a reasonable likelihood we're going to get some kind of pullback here in this market, and I think that's probably healthy consolidation and then we can probably start to resume the uptrend sometime later in the summer or into early fall."

Archibald said the catalyst and timing for the move lower is unknown although August is not usually a good month.

"A lot of the indicators that I pay attention to in terms of risk-on and risk-off are decisively pointing to a bit of a softer environment ahead of us and so I think it makes some sense to to be a bit cautious here when putting new money to work," he said.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 36.48 points to 20,183.72.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 53.79 points at 34,987.02. The S&P 500 index was down 14.27 points at 4,360.03, while the Nasdaq composite was down 101.82 points at 14,543.13.

Consumer staples led the TSX, gaining two per cent as shares of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. rose 5.5 per cent and hit a record high a day after the company held an investor day that prompted several analysts to upgrade the stock.

Railways pushed industrials higher while gold helped materials with B2Gold Corp. up 4.7 per cent and Hudbay Minerals Inc. up 3.5 per cent.

The August gold contract was up US$4 at US$1,829.00 an ounce and the September copper contract was up 5.6 cents at US$4.32 a pound.

Health care lagged, followed by the energy sector, which was hurt by lower crude oil prices.

The August crude oil contract was down US$1.48 at US$71.65 per barrel and the August natural gas contract was down 4.6 cents at US$3.61 per mmBTU.

Shares of MEG Energy Corp. lost 5.2 per cent while Crescent Point Energy Corp. was down 3.2 per cent.

Crude oil prices slipped after Saudi Arabia reached a compromise with the United Arab Emirates on a deal for OPEC+ to add more output. There was also a fairly big draw in U.S. crude oil stockpiles but big build in gasoline inventories.

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.54 cents US, its weakest position since late April and compared with 80.02 cents US on Wednesday.

"I think most of that move, in my opinion, today is really just on the move to more safe haven parts of the market," he said.

"And and clearly with oil price down there is still a correlation between the Canadian dollar and energy. And so that's really the cause for the sell off today.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:BTO, TSX:HBM, TSX:CP, TSX:CNR, TSX:ATD.B, TSX:MEG, TSX:CPG, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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