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North American markets sustain decline for a second day in a row

Last Updated Oct 18, 2018 at 4:00 pm MDT

People walk in Toronto's financial district in Toronto, on Oct. 29, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO – North American markets fell again Thursday with Canada’s main stock index posting its ninth down day in October as its value is down seven per cent from its July peak.

Concerns about a trade war with China, an incident involving the suspected murder of a Saudi journalist and the lowest crude oil prices in five weeks all coloured the day’s stock performance, especially in the U.S., said Les Stelmach, senior vice-president and portfolio manager at Franklin Bissett Investment Management.

In Canada, the widening differential in the price of all grades of crude but particularly the Western Canadian Select heavy grade hampered energy stocks.

“It’s kind of a defensive day today,” he said in an interview, pointing to gold, telecommunications and utilities being the only sectors to end in positive territory in Canada.

Stelmach said Canada’s stock market has underperformed the U.S. for several years reflecting the better economic performance south of the border, U.S. corporate tax cuts and the composition of the market.

“Returns were kind of flat for much of the year before they’ve now dipped into negative territory with a weak series of days here,” he said.

Stelmach said he doesn’t foresee a near-term correction even though the Toronto Stock Market has lost 669.01 points so far this month after recording just four positive days.

“To me it doesn’t feel like we’re running off a cliff here in Canada. More it’s been a slow decline for a period of time.”

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 125.77 points to 15,404.13, after hitting a low of 15,380.70 with 269 million shares traded.

Declines were led by important sectors like metals, industrial, energy and financials.

Most cannabis stocks again posted losses, on the second day of the drug’s legalization for recreational use.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 327.23 points at 25,379.45. The S&P 500 index was down 40.43 points at 2,768.78, while the Nasdaq composite was down 157.56 points at 7,485.14.

The Canadian dollar traded at an average of 76.59 cents US compared with an average of 76.96 cents US on Wednesday.

The December crude oil contract was down 99 cents at US$68.71 per barrel and the November natural gas contract was down 12.2 cents at US$3.20 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up US$2.70 at US$1,230.10 an ounce and the December copper contract was down 3.15 cents at US$2.75 a pound.