S&P/TSX composite moves lower Thursday despite energy gains, U.S. stock markets down


July 13, 2023

Strength in energy stocks Thursday wasn’t enough to keep Canada’s main stock index from posting a loss amid weakness in tech and other sectors, while U.S. markets also declined.

It feels like there’s a bit of a change in tone after the second quarter as markets search for direction following a very strong start to the year, said Kevin Burkett, portfolio manager at Victoria-based Burkett Asset Management.

“I think the next four to six weeks are going to be really critical to send the markets either on its continued growth path or maybe cool things off,” he said.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 86.84 points at 19,812.23.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 290.91 points at 34,474.83. The S&P 500 index was down 33.97 points at 4,370.36, while the Nasdaq composite was down 157.70 points at 13,316.93.

Thursday saw a continued “summer drift” downward, but underneath the quiet day of trading there’s a continued sectoral shift happening, said Burkett.

The S&P/TSX composite’s loss Thursday came despite the energy index rising 1.45 per cent.

With energy prices much higher than they were earlier this summer, the sector is contributing to a shift away from the growth stocks that fuelled this year’s rally, and toward value stocks, said Burkett.

Last year “was all about value outperformance relative to growth,” he said. Then growth stocks, led by tech, rallied in the first half of 2023 and took back some of their 2022 losses.

“We’re starting to see in the late summer some of that begin to unwind a little bit. And I’d say today has been a strong value outperformance day relative to growth.”

That’s despite the pressure on commodities being felt as weakness in China’s economy increasingly makes itself known.

“I think some of the stories we’re hearing out of China are raising concern about whether the Chinese economy really is going to continue to kind of be the engine of the commodity supercycle that we’ve seen, really, since the early 2000s,” said Burkett.

That’s weighing on commodities, but cuts from OPEC plus are continuing to buoy oil prices, he said.

Bond yields stayed elevated Thursday as investors increasingly see interest rates staying higher for longer in the face of economic resilience, said Burkett.

In yet more signs of that resilience, fewer U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than expected, while a survey of mid-Atlantic manufacturers showed unexpected growth.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.94 cents US compared with 73.98 cents US on Wednesday.

The October crude contract was up 88 cents US at US$79.90 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was up three cents at US$2.62 per mmBTU (million British thermal units).

The December gold contract was down US$13.10 at US$1,915.20 an ounce and the September copper contract was up three cents at US$3.69 a pound.

With files from The Associated Press. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 17, 2023.

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