Canadian stocks recover from near record lows to close up 155 points

TORONTO — Global equity markets were mixed Tuesday, as an economic report from China suggested that it was slowing in a key growth area and after U.S. stocks opened lower.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index moved higher, with the market ending up 155.94 points, or 0.93 per cent, at 16,122.32.

Earlier in the day, the TSX touched 16,177.70, the lowest level for the index since January 2017, ahead of the markets’ scheduled holiday Thursday.

Derek Holt, vice-president of capital markets economics at Scotiabank, said equity markets can be volatile over the long weekend as investors take refuge in safe haven assets.

“By the time this slide will be out, the TSX could be down about 500 points from the high we set on March 5,” he said.

“Given how high we are over that threshold, that implies that if the rally sustains and the TSX is at 16,800 it will likely need a lot more good news in order to make that a more compelling entry point.”

The Canadian dollar also took a hit, trading at an average price of 77.62 cents US, down 0.73 of a US cent.

The March inflation rate in China was less than expected at 3.4 per cent, compared with an expected 3.6 per cent and the smallest rise since April 2017.

Holt said the slower-than-expected Chinese inflation rate was adding to uncertainty about the country’s economy ahead of the important annual national congress, where officials will vote on who will be the country’s next top leaders.

“The Chinese policy stance is key for the global economy at large,” he said.

Elsewhere in commodities, oil prices were generally higher, with the March West Texas Intermediate crude contract going up $1.39 to $61.56 a barrel, while the April contract rose $1.29 to $62.32 a barrel.

April natural gas dropped to US$2.50 per mmBTU, while May gold rose US$6.80 to US$1,305.40 an ounce.

Other markets were mixed as the U.S. stock market slipped.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 108.18 points to 25,006.92. The S&P 500 index fell 6.95 points to 2,684.12 and the Nasdaq composite index dropped 0.47 points to 7,667.51.

Among leading stock gainers in Canada, Cache was up $1.13, or 46.05 per cent, to $2.90 and First Quantum rose 73 cents, or 4.5 per cent, to $14.90.

Barrick Gold was the biggest decliner, down 69 cents, or 3.2 per cent, to $20.21.

© The Canadian Press

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