Energy stocks help lift S&P/TSX composite index despite World Bank growth downgrade


TORONTO — A continued rise in crude oil prices helped lift the energy sector and in turn Canada’s main stock index to a near six-week high even though the World Bank downgraded its forecast for global growth.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up for a second day, gaining 109.12 points to 20,928.21

U.S. stock markets also moved higher as 10-year U.S. treasury bond yields softened and dipped below three per cent following the World Bank action.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 264.36 points at 33,180.14. The S&P 500 index was up 39.25 points at 4,160.68, while the Nasdaq composite was up 113.86 points at 12,175.23.

Candice Bangsund, portfolio manager for Fiera Capital, said equity markets strived for direction on a quiet day on both the economic and central bank calendar.

“Stocks saw some notable volatility and gyrated between gains and losses as investors contemplated the outlook for global growth amid central bank’s pivot to quelling rampant inflation,” she wrote in an email.

Earlier, the World Bank downgraded its forecast due to a surge in food and energy prices as well as supply disruptions. It pointed to Russia’s war against Ukraine, the prospect of widespread food shortages and concerns about the potential return of stagflation with high inflation and weak growth.

The 189-country anti-poverty agency predicted Tuesday that the world economy will expand 2.9 per cent this year. That would be down from 5.7 per cent global growth in 2021 and from the 4.1 per cent it had forecast for 2022 back in January.

The World Bank expects oil prices to surge 42 per cent this year and for non-energy commodity prices to climb nearly 18 per cent. But it foresees oil and other commodity prices both dropping eight per cent in 2023.

“Additional adverse shocks,” the agency warned in its new Global Economic Prospects report, “will increase the possibility that the global economy will experience a period of stagflation reminiscent of the 1970s.”

The energy sector led the TSX, climbing 2.3 per cent as shares of Baytex Energy Corp. increased 6.2 per cent and Vermilion Energy Inc. was 5.7 per cent higher.

The July crude contract was up 91 cents at US$119.41 per barrel and the July natural gas contract was down 2.9 cents at US$9.29 per mmBTU.

“Oil prices were also whipsawed throughout the day after the World Bank’s downgraded forecast for global growth brought into question the outlook for global energy demand,” Bangsund said.

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.65 cents US compared with 79.59 cents US on Monday.

Technology was helped by weaker bond yields, gaining as Shopify Inc. increased 5.3 per cent after shareholders approved the granting of non-transferable founder shares to the e-commerce company’s founder and CEO and endorsed a 10-for-one stock split.

Health care and the heavyweight financials sector were among the eight sectors that were up on the day.

Materials, which includes miners and fertilizer companies, slipped even though metals prices rose as Bangsund said a decline in treasury yields and warnings over a global economic slowdown “boosted the appeal of the safe-haven metal.”

The August gold contract was up US$8.40 at US$1,852.10 an ounce and the July copper contract essentially flat at US$4.44 a pound.

Nutrien Inc. was the weakest among sector participants with shares of the fertilizer company decreasing 3.4 per cent.

The U.S. retail sector was under pressure as Target slashed its profit growth outlook for the second time in a few weeks, underscoring the vulnerability of corporations in the environment of slowing growth and rising costs.

Bangsund said markets will be watching closely Friday’s consumer price index (CPI) data for further signs of acceleration, with “a strong reading likely solidifying the case for a more aggressive approach to policy tightening from the Federal Reserve.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the Senate finance committee Tuesday that the U.S. faces “unacceptable levels of inflation” and containing it should be the top priority of policymakers.




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