TORONTO – The Toronto Stock Exchange looked to finish the trading week with a triple-digit decline in the wake of a pessimistic report from Goldman Sacks that said crude oil prices could dip as low as US$20 a barrel next year.
The S&P/TSX composite index was off its worst levels of the day but still down 122.93 points at 13,446.96 at midafternoon, with energy the leading decliner as the sector was off 2.89 per cent.
The Canadian dollar lost 0.13 of a U.S. cent to 75.47 cents US.
South of the border, major indexes were trading in a narrow range after recovering from a morning swoon over oil prices as traders increasingly turned their attention to next week’s interest rate meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 33.02 points at 16,363.42, while the broader S&P 500 edged up 0.07 of a point to 1,952.36 and the Nasdaq added 3.35 points to 4,799.60.
On commodity markets, the October crude oil contract was down 84 cents at US$45.08 a barrel, while October natural gas advanced a penny to US$2.70 per thousand cubic feet. December gold contract lost $5.60 to US$1,103.70 an ounce, while December copper was unchanged at US$2.45 a pound.
The pessimistic report on crude prices from Goldman Sachs came out on the same day as the International Energy Agency predicted that production outside OPEC countries would drop sharply in 2016 because prices are so weak.
However, Goldman analyst Damien Courvalin says the world already has more oil than previously believed and that the non-OPEC cuts may not be enough. He lowered his forecast for 2016 to US$45 per barrel from $57, but added that prices could collapse to around $20 if production decreases too slowly.
Markets also reacted to the latest reading on U.S. consumer sentiment which saw the University of Michigan’s index unexpectedly fall sharply to 85.7 early this month from 91.9 in August.
“Reading through the report, it seems people are focused on the market’s volatility and the potential impact of a slowing China (economy),” said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors. “I understand why folks are nervous.”
Traders were also looking nervously to next week’s two-day meeting of the Fed amid conflicting signals from the U.S. central bank over whether it will finally move to raise interest rates from historically lower levels near zero.
Lower interests rates are considered a major factor in helping markets stage an almost uninterrupted recovery since the Great Recession.
Meanwhile, a batch of economic reports are scheduled for this weekend in China, including retail sales and industrial production.
“If recent data is anything to go by, it will most likely point towards yet more trouble in the beleaguered Asian powerhouse,” said IG market analyst Joshua Mahony.
That means trading on Monday “is likely to start with a bang,” he added. – With files from The Associated Press