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Stock markets, oil plunge after Trump tweet threatening more tariffs on China

The TSX ticker is shown in Toronto on May 10, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
August 01, 2019 - 2:01 PM

TORONTO - A positive day on North American markets came to an abrupt end Thursday afternoon when one presidential tweet threatening more tariffs on Chinese imports sent stock markets and oil prices plunging.

North American markets rose in early Thursday trading until U.S. President Donald Trump said he would impose "a small additional tariff of 10 per cent tariffs on the remaining US$300 billion of goods and products from China" as of Sept. 1.

Markets, especially in the United States, promptly tanked on heightened trade anxiety. The new tariffs are on top of 25 per cent tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese imports.

This comes after markets retreated Wednesday as investors were disappointed by the Federal Reserve's interest rate cut of 0.25 per cent. But they picked up early the next day after PMI manufacturing data in July fell to its lowest level in nearly a decade, giving investors hope that the Fed would cut rates again in September.

"That gave the market some upward momentum this morning and then the president tweeted," said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.

"So that just had a negative impact on the market. It was a strong day until the president tweeted."

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 29.52 points at 16,377.04, after hitting an intraday high of 16,505.92.

Health care was the worst-performing sector on the day, falling 3.08 per cent as shares of several cannabis producers fell, including Cronos Group Inc. which was off by 7.6 per cent and Aurora Cannabis Inc. dropped by 5.6 per cent.

The key energy sector was down 2.2 per cent with oil companies such as Husky Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources falling as crude oil prices plunged 7.9 per cent.

The September crude contract was down US$4.63 at US$53.95 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was down 3.1 cents at US$2.20 per mmBTU.

"When you have issues around trade you have an impact on global growth and if the two largest economies in the world don't agree on trade...that's just not a positive for oil and it's really demand driven," Chopra said in an interview.

The heavyweight financials sectors fell by more than one per cent, led by declines from Home Capital Group and the large Canadian banks.

Technology was up 2.2 per cent after getting a lift from Shopify Inc., whose shares climbed 7.7 per cent after the Ottawa-based e-commerce logistics company beat earnings expectations as revenue jumped 48 per cent in the second quarter.

Materials was also higher as the spot price of gold rose by US$17. Nonetheless, the December gold contract was down $5.40 at US$1,432.40 an ounce and the September copper contract was down half a cent at US$2.66 a pound.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 280.85 points at 26,583.42. The S&P 500 index was down 26.82 points at 2,953.56, while the Nasdaq composite was down 64.30 points at 8,111.12.

The Canadian dollar traded at an average of 75.66 cents US, down compared with Wednesday's average of 76.06 cents US.

U.S. employment numbers to be released Friday will likely move markets barring any new action on the trade front, said Chopra.

"If the jobs numbers disappoint generally the markets would rally because they would be expecting the Federal Reserve to cut rates."


News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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