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Apr 20, 2018

U.S. markets move lower as tech stocks dip; TSX gains

BNN's closing bell update: April 20, 2018

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Wall Street's three major indexes declined on Friday as investors worried about a jump in U.S. bond yields, with technology stocks leading the decline on nerves about upcoming earnings reports and iPhone demand.

The technology index was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 with a 1.5 per cent drop after registering three straight days of losses ahead of a key earnings week for the sector.

"There continues to be some concern over interest rates and their potential impact on equities. There's also been a little bit of a lack of momentum in this earnings period," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"It's not that earnings weren't good enough but company forecasts often weren't strong enough to make the market continue to rise," he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 202.09 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 24,462.8, the S&P 500 lost 22.98 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 2,670.15 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 91.93 points, or 1.27 per cent, to 7,146.13.

Despite Friday's decline the S&P eked out a gain of 0.5 per cent for the week to show its second weekly gain in a row.

Equity investors were jittery as the 10-year Treasury yield reached its highest level since January 2014 as a bond selloff continued for a second day, driving the yield curve steeper after two weeks of flattening.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 12/32 in price to yield 2.9583 per cent, from 2.914 per cent Thursday.

When yields are high, investors favor bonds over equities including sectors such as consumer staples and real estate, which promise high dividends and slow, predictable growth. But high interest rates can boost bank profits so the financial sector managed to show a 0.05 per cent gain, making it the best performer out of the S&P's 11 industry sectors.

The consumer staples sector was the biggest per centage decliner with a 1.7 per cent fall, led by PepsiCo (PEP.N).

"We're seeing a follow through from yesterday's action when the key was weakness in consumer staples. We came to this earnings season with very optimistic expectations and we're seeing some very fundamental bottoms up issues at these companies," said Michael ORRourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Procter & Gamble (PG.N) fell 2.9 per cent on top of a 4.2 per cent drop the day before when it said shrinking retailer inventories and higher costs squeezed its margins.

Philip Morris International (PM.N) also had a second day of declines after getting crushed due to weak shipment volumes in its quarterly report.

Apple (AAPL.O) fell 4.1 per cent, making it the biggest drag on the major indexes after Morgan Stanley estimated weak demand for its latest iPhones, a day after Taiwan Semiconductor raised fears of softer smartphone sales.

Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O), Intel (INTC.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) are among the major technology companies reporting next week.

S&P 500 companies are expected to report their strongest first-quarter profit gains in seven years. Of the 87 companies that have reported so far, 79.3 per cent have topped profit expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.05-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.68-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and 22 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 54 new highs and 51 new lows.

On U.S. exchanges 6.45 billion shares changed hands compared to the 6.92 billion average for the last 20 trading days.

CANADIAN STOCKS

Canada's main stock index rose on Friday as higher bond yields boosted financials, while shares of Rogers Communications jumped after the telecommunications company reported profits that beat estimates.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 29.9 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 15,484.32.

For the week, the index rose 1.4 per cent.

Financials, which account for more than one-third of the weight of the TSX, rose 0.5 per cent.

Canada's 10-year yield reached its highest intraday since Feb. 21 at 2.357 per cent. Higher bond yields reduce the value of insurance companies' liabilities and increase net interest margins of banks.

Rogers Communications (RCIb.TO) climbed 5.9 per cent to $61.34. First-quarter results, reported by the cable and telecom company after the bell on Thursday, showed that more wireless postpaid and internet customers had been signed up.

Six of the index's 10 main groups ended higher.

Energy fell 0.6 per cent.

The price of oil recovered after an earlier slide driven by U.S. President Donald Trump's criticism of OPEC's role in pushing up global oil prices. U.S. crude oil futures settled 0.1 per cent higher at US$68.38 a barrel.

The TSX posted three new 52-week highs and three new lows.

The largest per centage gainer on the TSX was Nexgen Energy Ltd (NXE.TO), which rose 6.2 per cent, while the largest decliner was Cascades Inc (CAS.TO), down 5.0 per cent.

Among the most active Canadian stocks by volume were Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO), down 3.3 per cent to $12.28 and Baytex Energy Co (BTE.TO), up 2.3 per cent to $4.90.

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