TSX, Wall St. flat ahead of U.S. Thanksgiving, as commodity prices gain ground - InfoNews

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TSX, Wall St. flat ahead of U.S. Thanksgiving, as commodity prices gain ground

The TSX ticker is shown in Toronto on May 10, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
November 22, 2017 - 2:17 PM

TORONTO - With the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday approaching, North American stock indices were little changed Wednesday as commodities prices surged and the loonie gained ground.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index edged down 3.07 points to 16,073.58, despite strong increases in the price of oil and gold.

The January crude contract soared US$1.19 to US$58.02 per barrel, its highest level in about 2-1/2 years, and the December gold contract climbed US$10.50 to US$1,292.20 an ounce.

There were several reasons that factored into oil's sharp upward movement, including news that U.S. stockpiles rose less than expected at the end of last week as well as reports that OPEC might extend its cuts in production, said Macan Nia, senior investment strategist at Manulife Investments.

Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter in the world, wants the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel to extend this year's cut in oil production for another nine months. The 14 nation-members of OPEC, as well as other major oil producers including Russia, will meet in Vienna next week to discuss their goals.

The closure of TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline due to a leak is also supporting higher oil prices. "That's taking off-line nearly half a million barrels of oil, so that's been one of the primary drivers," noted Nia.

Meanwhile, the key driver of gold prices came after the U.S. Federal Reserve released minutes from its latest meeting ended Nov. 1, which painted a more dovish sentiment around inflation, Nia added.

While most officials were comfortable raising interest rates soon, a few Fed leaders wanted to wait until there is more evidence inflation is rising. Most experts expect the Fed to raise rates in December, which would be the third increase this year. The Fed says it's aiming to raise rates three more times next year.

"The minutes pointed to the continued befuddlement of the Fed in terms of what has been just the lack of inflation in the system, despite economic growth, despite employment growth, despite wage growth," said Nia.

"As a result you saw gold rally and the U.S. dollar sell-off versus its major peers, including the Canadian dollar."

In currency markets, the loonie was trading at 78.56 cents US, up 0.30 of a U.S. cent.

South of the border, most major New York indices fell back at the closing of markets after they finished at all-time highs on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 64.65 points to 23,526.18 and the S&P 500 index lost 1.95 points to 2,597.08. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq composite index inched up 4.88 points to 6,867.36 to reach a new record high.

"Whether you look at the U.S. or in Canada, markets have been flat," Nia said. "In the U.S., it's typically low trade volumes as we enter Thanksgiving so expect volumes to be on the lower end leading, really, into next."

Elsewhere in commodities, the January natural gas contract was down five cents at US$3.06 per mmBTU and the December copper contract was up one cent to US$3.14 a pound.

U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and trading will end early on Friday.

Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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