TSX posts biggest decline in three months as investors reduce risk

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: The Toronto Stock Exchange sing is seen in Toronto

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Thursday to a five-week low as investors took some chips off the table in anticipation of aggressive tightening by global central banks, with resource and technology shares pacing broadbased declines.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended down 347.97 points, or 1.6%, at 21,650.41. It was the lowest closing level since March 16 and the biggest decline since Jan. 21.

All 10 of the TSX's major sectors lost ground.

"Maybe a bit of profit taking here as people are worried about global risk and try to take some of their gains off the TSX and Canadian companies," said Greg Taylor, portfolio manager at Purpose Investments.

"There has been a lot of pain in other markets around the world (in recent months) and the TSX has been sheltered from it."

The Toronto market has advanced 2% since the start of the year, one of few major global benchmarks to move higher, helped by a heavy weighting in stocks that benefit from higher commodity prices.

Wall Street's three main indexes also fell on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said a 50-basis point interest rate hike was "on the table", cementing expectations of aggressive policy tightening by the U.S. central bank.

"The central banks are going to be much more aggressive in trying to normalize rates," Taylor said. "The Fed is more focused on fighting inflation than keeping equities higher."

Technology, which tends to be particularly sensitive to higher rates, fell 3%, with e-commerce giant Shopify Inc falling to its lowest level since April 2020.

Energy was down 3.6% even as the European Union mulled a potential ban on Russian oil imports, boosting the price of oil, while the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 4.1%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; editing by Diane Craft)

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