S&P/TSX composite down Thursday, U.S. markets post small gain despite morning rally

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TORONTO — The S&P/TSX composite index was down about 70 points Thursday, while U.S. markets posted small gains, with markets rallying for most of the day before sputtering in the last trading hour.

After an end-of-day fall Wednesday reacting to comments by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen about the banking crisis, markets reversed their losses Thursday but couldn’t sustain the rally, said John Zechner, chairman and lead equity manager at J Zechner Associates.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 72.86 points at 19,459.92.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 75.14 points at 32,105.25. The S&P 500 index was up 11.75 points at 3,948.72, while the Nasdaq composite was up 117.44 points at 11,787.40.

The Nasdaq led the market with a gain of just over one per cent, reaching an almost 300-point gain mid-morning, or 2.5 per cent. Meanwhile, energy weighed on the TSX.

Investors are still grappling with uncertainty about where the Federal Reserve will take interest rates next, and with concerns about the banking sector continuing to swirl, the Associated Press reported.

Markets have been surprisingly resilient given the bad news of the month, albeit volatile, said Zechner.

“So it shouldn’t be too surprising that you get a little bit of profit-taking,” he said.

Talk of a credit crunch is definitely weighing on investors’ minds, said Zechner, but there’s also still a significant gap between what the Federal Reserve is saying about rate hikes and what the market is expecting, which are cuts by the end of the year.

Either way, “it’s all about the macro right now,” said Zechner.

However, now that the Fed’s latest interest rate decision is out of the way after it hiked rates by a quarter of a percentage point Wednesday, markets will look to first-quarter earnings in the U.S. for a sense of how companies have fared so far this year, Zechner said — even though the full effects of interest rates and the banking crisis won’t be felt this quarter.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.15 cents US,compared with 72.93 cents US on Wednesday.

The May crude contract was down 94 cents at US$69.96 per barrel and the May natural gas contract was down two cents at US$2.28 per mmBTU.

The April gold contract was up US$46.30 at US$1,995.90 an ounceand the May copper contract was up eight cents at US$4.12 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

Rosa Saba, The Canadian Press