Strength in the energy sector helped buoy Canada’s main stock index to close flat on Wednesday while U.S. markets moved lower.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed down less than one point at 19,899.07.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 180.65 points at 34,765.74. The S&P 500 index was down 33.53 points at 4,404.33, while the Nasdaq composite was down 156.42 points at 13,474.63.
Stocks wavered Wednesday amid lingering worries about China’s economy, said Angelo Kourkafas, an investment strategist at Edward Jones.
Those worries have been “a pretty major driver” of the pullback markets have seen so far in August, he said.
“At the same time, it seems like policymakers are trying to step up their efforts to provide stimulus, which could help stabilize the economy down the road,” he said. “But I think in the near term, that’s going to be an ongoing headwind for global risk sentiment.”
Ten-year bond yields have been climbing, putting pressure on the tech and growth stocks that have led the rally so far this year, he said.
There’s also still some uncertainty about what central banks will do in the coming months, said Kourkafas, though both the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Canada will likely remain on the sidelines in September.
Minutes from the Fed’s most recent decision showed officials still see inflation as an ongoing threat that could require further hikes. However, officials also saw tentative signs of inflation pressures abating, leading to an overall mixed message from the central bank.
Central banks will continue to be data-dependent as they move into the fall, said Kourkafas, noting that economic data has already improved since the Fed’s decision last month.
However, central bank officials will want to keep their hawkish messaging, he noted.
“They want to avoid the mistake of the 70s in declaring victory prematurely.”
Oil dipped below US$80 per barrel Wednesday, weighed down by concerns about global demand because of China’s economic faltering, said Kourkafas.
“We have seen a string of disappointing economic data from China over the last couple of weeks, all of which points to a continued slowdown in the Chinese economy, which is a major consumer of oil and commodities in general,” he said.
The Canadian dollar traded for 73.98 cents UScompared with 74.17 cents US on Tuesday.
The September crude contract was down US$1.61 at US$79.38 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was down seven cents at US$2.59 per mmBTU.
The December gold contract was down US$6.90 at US$1,928.30 an ounceand the September copper contract was down a penny at US$3.66 a pound.
– With files from The Associated Press
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