North American markets end punishing week in the red as oil and loonie sink | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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North American markets end punishing week in the red as oil and loonie sink

Financial numbers flow on the digital ticker tape at the TMX Group in Toronto's financial district on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
December 21, 2018 - 2:21 PM

TORONTO - North American markets concluded a painful week by closing well in the red Friday on a busy day of trading as crude oil prices sank and the loonie hit a 19-month low.

A variety of concerns drove investor actions, including heightened rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump that an impending partial government shutdown could be lengthy.

Risk is elevated these days and Friday was a perfect example of the many potential vulnerabilities for people, said Ian Scott, an equity analyst at Manulife Asset Management.

"We're kind of in a bit of a free fall right now until we get some resolution on some of these things," he said in an interview.

The S&P/TSX composite index lost 206.33 points to end at 13,935.44 after hitting an intraday low of 13,924.38. The Toronto market lost almost 660 points or 4.5 per cent in one week and 8.3 per cent in December with just four trading sessions remaining in the year.

Scott said a short-term market bounce remains a possibility in the coming days, but the year appears to be a writeoff.

"We've come to that conclusion ourselves."

All sectors lost ground on the day, led by technology and cannabis-heavy health care. Shopify Inc. fell 3.3 per cent in line with tech losses in the United States.

They were followed by the influential financial, energy and industrials sectors. Energy was down 1.9 per cent as the February crude contract was down 29 cents at US$45.59 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was up 22.4 cents at US$3.75 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded at an average of 73.71 cents US compared with an average of 74.10 cents on Thursday. It's down more than a cent this week.

Consumer discretionary, consumer staples and materials were least impacted.

The Stars Group Inc. was a strong performer on the day, gaining 7.25 per cent after the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed a US$870-million lower court ruling against the online gaming company.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed off 414.23 points at 22,445.37. The S&P 500 index was down two per cent, falling by 50.84 points at 2,416.58, while the Nasdaq composite was down three per cent or 195.41 points at 6,332.99.

The February gold contract was down US$9.80 at US$1,258.10 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 2.25 cents at US$2.67 a pound.

The day started up on hopeful signs from China after a policymaker said its monetary policy would be "prudent" in 2019 and its fiscal policy "proactive." It was followed by dovish comments from New York Fed president John Williams.

But things soured as Trump talked about a government shutdown.

The markets also felt pressure from heavy trading that accompanied the so-called quadruple witching day when options and futures expire, said Scott. Volume on the Dow was 900 million, up from a daily average of 364 million.

"Any time there's a quadruple witching day you'll see elevated volumes which I think can just lead to more volatility."

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

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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