TORONTO — Canada's main stock index closed the week essentially unchanged to cap off a losing week, while U.S. markets fell after the Federal Reserve's latest moves to fight inflation.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 0.77 of a point to 20,739.01 after moving lower at the end of the day after hitting an intraday high of 20,857.96.
U.S. stock markets continued to assess the Federal Reserve's stimulus tightening and plans for three interest rate hikes next year to tackle inflation.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 532.20 points at 35,365.44. The S&P 500 index was down 48.03 points at 4,620.64, while the Nasdaq composite was down 10.76 points at 15,169.68.
"The Fed has become more hawkish and more cognizant of the inflation threat, and I think that's one thing that's weighing on markets," said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.
Also affecting markets Friday was lower volume approaching the holiday season, year-end tax-loss selling and volatility that accompanies the simultaneous expiry of stock options, stock index futures and index options contracts, known as triple witching.
Eight of the 11 major sectors on the TSX were higher with five experiencing gains of at least one per cent.
Health care led, rising 2.9 per cent as cannabis producers Cronos Group Inc. climbed 9.8 per cent, while Canopy Growth Corp. and Organigram Holdings Inc. were each up about 6.1 per cent.
Technology increased 1.4 per cent as shares of Nuvei Corp. closed up 10.8 per cent.
Materials was up on higher gold prices with shares of K92 Mining Inc. up six per cent and Kinross Gold Corp. up 3.8 per cent.
The February gold contract was up US$6.70 at US$1,804.90 an ounce and the March copper contract was down nearly a penny at US$4.30 a pound.
Energy was the big laggard, losing 2.1 per cent on lower energy prices with Enerplus Corp. and Crescent Point Energy Corp. down 5.8 and 5.2 per cent, respectively.
Chopra said the rapidly growing number of Omicron infections is raising concerns about demand for crude oil and natural gas.
"It's hard to see the same extent of lockdowns as we saw at the beginning of the pandemic, but anything that slows down the economy, whether it's lockdowns or people staying at home voluntarily and just reducing their activity levels, just has an impact on the price of energy," he said in an interview.
The February crude contract was down US$1.43 at US$70.72 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down 7.6 cents at US$3.69 per mmBTU.
The Canadian dollar also dipped, trading for 77.85 cents US compared with 78.24 cents US on Thursday.
While the TSX was down 0.7 per cent on the week, the Nasdaq lost 2.9 per cent, the S&P 500 was down 1.9 per cent and the Dow was off 1.7 per cent.
"It's definitely not a great week," said Chopra. "It's mainly driven by a few factors. One is the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID and just the U.S. Federal Reserve and its stance on inflation and starting to act on it."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:CPG, TSX:ERF, TSX:CRON, TSX:WEED, TSX:OGI, TSX:NVEI, TSX:K, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press