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Oct 18, 2018

TSX ends the week positive; U.S. stocks edge lower

Stocks hunt for direction amid myriad of geopolitical risks

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U.S. stocks edged lower as investors assessed the latest batch of corporate earnings and simmering geopolitical tensions ahead of the weekend. The dollar weakened and oil rose.

The S&P 500 Index ended the week virtually unchanged, holding near its average price of the past 200 days. The measure earlier powered to a gain of more than 1 per cent on the strength of corporate results, but gave back the advance as investors grew concerned tariffs will increasingly dent profit margins. Honeywell warned as much during its conference call, dragging down shares in Boeing and Caterpillar.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Friday up 65.97 points at 15,470.10.

The gyrations capped a wild week of trading that saw stocks put in their biggest rally since March only to tumble almost 1.5 per cent two days later. Tech shares remained under pressure, with the Nasdaq indexes falling Friday for their third straight weekly retreat.

A renewed rise in Treasury yields -- the 10-year rate targeted 3.2 per cent again -- added to pressure on equities, though bank shares benefited. The dollar slumped versus major peers. Oil gave back some gains after Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic said tensions between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. pose a geopolitical risk.

“It seems like it’s another day of uncertainty, digestion,” said Christian Magoon, chief executive officer of Amplify ETFs. “The two macro forces pushing on the market are the interest rates and how aggressive the Fed is going to be and whether that aggression could take the economy into a recession. The other uncertainty is around what will happen with tariffs. It’s a buyers strike right now.”

Markets rode a roller coaster this week as investors parsed a mixed bag of earnings to see whether the ongoing trade war and higher rates are eating away at profits. Reports that President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump would meet in November eased concerns early Friday, but they were soon ratcheted higher on worries about the potential impending impact of Chinese tariffs. And still hanging in the background are tensions surrounding the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist, Brexit and the Italian budget drama.

Elsewhere, Italian bonds weighed on European debt amid the country’s debt crisis, while a slowdown in Chinese growth added to concerns that the world economy is not on firm footing. The pound rose after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was said to be ready to ditch a key demand in Brexit talks.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

The S&P 500 Index fell less than 0.1 per cent to 2,767.78 as of 4 p.m. New York time. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.5 per cent, while the Nasdaq 100 dropped 0.1 per cent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.1 per cent. The MSCI Emerging Market Index gained 0.1 per cent.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell less than 0.1 per cent. The euro climbed 0.4 per cent to US$1.1502. The Japanese yen declined 0.3 per cent to 112.57 per dollar. The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index increased 0.1 per cent.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries gained two basis points to 3.19 per cent. Germany’s 10-year yield rose four basis points to 0.46 per cent. Britain’s 10-year yield added four basis points to 1.576 per cent.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Commodity Index climbed 0.2 per cent. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.9 per cent to US$69.29 a barrel. Gold fell less than 0.1 per cent to US$1,229.50 an ounce.

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