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S&P/TSX composite down more than 200 points amid broad selloff led by tech sector

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TORONTO — Canada's main stock index closed down 1.2 per cent Tuesday as part of a broad selloff caused by surging bond yields that also pushed U.S. stock markets down. 

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 262.88 points at 21,274.57 with losses led by the technology, industrial and health care sectors.  

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 543.34 points at 35,368.47. The S&P 500 index ended down 85.74 points at 4,577.11, while the Nasdaq composite was down 386.86 points at 14,506.90.

The sell-off comes as higher bond yields curb investor appetite for risker assets, said Candice Bangsund, portfolio manager for Fiera Capital.

"The sharp move higher in bond yields has been driven by increased speculation for a more aggressive path to policy normalization. Investors are now pricing in four rate hikes from the Federal Reserve starting as early as March, and this is obviously rattling both fixed income and bond markets here so far in 2022."

The increased volatility and pressure on equity markets is largely expected after a very strong 2021, she said.

"Equity markets are trading at some elevated valuations. And our sense was that volatility would resurface, particularly given the transition that's taking place from ultra stimulative monetary policy towards something less supportive."

While fairly widespread, the sell-off was led by technology firms and declines this year have been sharper in the U.S., said Bangsund. 

"The Canadian market's holding up a little bit better, and year-to-date doing much better than its U.S. counterparts given a high concentration in the energy sector that's done extremely well."

Oil has been rising amid strong demand, despite the Omicron variant, as well as tight supplies. 

"The global demand outlook for crude remains fairly bright," said Bangsund.

Crude oil rose again Tuesday, closing up US$1.53 at US$84.83 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was up two cents at US$4.28 per mmBTU.

Still, Canadian energy producers saw their share prices dip amid heavy trading, including Cenovus Energy Inc. down 1.8 per cent, Crescent Point Energy Corp. down 2.3 per cent, and Suncor Energy Inc. down 0.94 per cent. 

On the technology front, Shopify Inc. was down 4.93 per cent, Constellation Software Inc. lost 3.06 per cent, and Lightspeed Commerce Inc. dropped 8.06 per cent. 

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.81 cents US compared with 79.87 cents US on Monday as a strong U.S. dollar limits its growth, said Bangsund.

"You would think given the resilience and the phenomenal gains that we've seen in crude prices, the Canadian dollar would be trading at a higher valuation, but the Canadian dollar has been ultimately capped by general underlying strength in the U.S. dollar."

The February gold contract closed down US$4.10 at US$1,812.40 an ounce and the March copper contract was down four cents at $4.38 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

The Canadian Press