Economy & Markets

U.S. markets finish mixed

By Aleksandra Sagan |
Source: The Canadian Press

Commodities and political uncertainty weighed down Canada's largest stock exchange, which fell nearly 70 points, as the loonie weakened against the greenback.

The S&P/TSX composite index shed 69.69 points to 15,552.88 for a two-day loss of 132.01 points.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 118.79 points to 20,404.49 and the S&P 500 index declined 4.02 points to 2,338.17. The Nasdaq composite index gained 13.56 points to 5,863.03.

The markets are falling as individual investors call into question whether U.S. President Donald Trump will be able to implement many of his campaign promises that were deemed favourable for the markets, said Allan Small, a senior adviser of the Allan Small financial group with HollisWealth.

"Market valuations really got ahead of themselves in anticipation that he'd be able to do the things he wanted to do," Small said, such as infrastructure spending and deregulation.

Amid reports of White House infighting, division within the Republican party and a failed health-care bill, investors are starting to wonder about the feasibility of these measures being implemented, he said.

Recent military and geopolitical events have also taken a toll on the markets, he added, pointing to U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan and Syria, as well as increased tensions with North Korea.

"All this is definitely putting a bit of a negative over the market," Small said.

However, the market is retreating slowly, rather than selling off quickly, he said.

"Every day, we seem to lose a little bit here, a little bit there."

That's likely because the underlying fundamentals of the economy in North America are very good, he said, with low unemployment, low interest rates and — for the most part — good corporate earnings.

Also weighing down Canadian stocks Wednesday were sliding gold miners and oil and gas companies.

The June bullion contract retreated US$10.70 to US$1,283.40 an ounce, with the gold sector on the TSX the lowest performing of the day, shedding about 2.5%.

The June crude contract fell US$2.00 to US$50.85 per barrel, as energy was also among the TSX's worst-performing sectors, with those stocks losing an average of about 1.5%.

Those drops likely came due to a strengthening greenback, said Small.

The Canadian dollar lost 0.55 of a U.S. cent to hit US74.18¢.

Elsewhere in commodities, the May natural gas contract rose US4¢ to about US$3.19 per mmBTU and the May copper contract gained about 0.6 of a U.S. cent to US$2.53 a pound.