Financial numbers flow on the digital ticker tape at the TMX Group in Toronto's financial district on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Shopify selloff and inflation spike help to pull S&P/TSX composite lower

Shopify selloff and inflation spike help to pull S&P/TSX composite lower

TORONTO — A Shopify Inc. selloff pulled Canada’s main stock index lower while minutes from a recent Federal Reserve meeting calmed U.S. market fears about an impending interest rate hike.

“Shopify is certainly the big Canadian story today and obviously it’s a big effect on the U.S. too, especially on the Nasdaq,” said Michael Currie, vice-president and investment adviser at TD Wealth.

Canada’s technology sector fell 3.9 per cent as shares of the e-commerce giant plunged 17.1 per cent to its lowest level in nearly two years after warning that 2022 revenues will be hurt by an easing of global COVID-19 restrictions.

Fourth-quarter revenues were up but the company said growth won’t match the 57 per cent gain of 2021, Currie said in an interview.

“The COVID-triggered acceleration of e-commerce will be absent going forward (amid) concerns around inflation and consumer spending,” he said.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 118.91 points to 21,383.64.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 54.57 points at 34,934.27. The S&P 500 index was up 3.94 points at 4,475.01, while the Nasdaq composite was down 15.66 points at 14,124.10.

Markets pared some of the early losses after minutes from the last Fed meeting were released at 2 p.m.

The minutes produced no surprises with members giving no hint about the pace of rate hikes although the central bank said it is ready to ready to respond depending on data.

“The fact that there are no surprises then the extra nervous people got a little more calm so the selling got reduced,” said Currie.

However, U.S. retail sales surged above forecasts at 3.8 per cent in January, possibly reinforcing a likely hiking of rates sooner than later, he said.

Commodities led the TSX on Wednesday with materials and energy leading the four sectors that moved higher.

Materials rose 1.8 per cent as gold futures climbed to the highest level since June.

The April gold contract was up US$15.30 at US$1,874.50 an ounce and the March copper contract was up half a cent at nearly US$4.54 a pound.

Barrick Gold Inc. shares increased 7.1 per cent after the miner raised its dividend and beat expectations despite posting a lower profit last year.

“Pretty much everything good you want to hear from a company,” Currie said.

Energy was 0.7 per cent higher as crude oil prices increased on geopolitical uncertainty in Europe. Prices softened Tuesday on signs that Russians were pulling back some troops from the Ukraine border, but rose again when NATO and the U.S. said Wednesday they have no official indication of such a move.

The March crude oil contract was up US$1.59 at US$93.66 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was up 41.1 cents at US$4.72 per mmBTU.

Shares of Birchcliff Energy Ltd. increased 4.0 per cent while Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. was 2.0 per cent higher.

Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar rose after Statistics Canada reported that the annual pace of inflation topped five per cent in January for the first time in more than 30 years.

The loonie traded for 78.83 cents US compared with 78.36 cents US on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2022.


Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press