The Canadian dollar and the Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index fell Wednesday amid reports that the United States may soon announce its intent to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The loonie closed at an average trading price of US80.03¢, down 0.27 of a U.S. cent.
The S&P/TSX composite index lost 71.29 points to 16,247.95, with industrials among the main decliners.
‘That’s the sector that’s getting hit the most this afternoon because of the NAFTA news,” said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp. in Toronto. “You’ve got the auto parts companies in that area.”
Separate reports from Reuters and Bloomberg said Wednesday that two Canadian government sources believe it’s increasingly likely that U.S. President Donald Trump will give six-months’ notice to withdraw from NAFTA in late January.
With the exception of metals and materials, few sectors on the commodity-heavy TSX finished the day out of the red, as the February gold contract gained US$5.60 to US$1,319.30 an ounce.
“The markets sold off this afternoon on the NAFTA news and that’s really been a driver of performance later in the day,” Chopra said.
Even rising oil prices — the February crude contract was up 61¢ to US$63.57 per barrel, its highest level since Dec. 9, 2014 — couldn’t prevent energy stocks from losing ground.
“That would be unusual given the change in price of the commodity,” Chopra said. “I think it’s in sympathy of just trying to understand what’s going on with NAFTA. … You don’t know if it’s actually going to happen or if it’s a negotiating tactic.”
South of the border, U.S. stock indices pulled back from their record setting pace.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 16.67 points to 25,369.13. The S&P 500 index edged back 3.06 points to 2,748.23 and the Nasdaq composite index was down 10.01 points to 7,153.57.
Elsewhere in commodities, the February natural gas contract was down US2¢ to US$2.91 per mmBTU and the March copper contract added US2¢ to US$3.24 a pound.