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S&P/TSX composite ends down for third straight week amid events coming out of China

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index concluded its third losing week in a row by giving back some of its recent gains amid concerns out of China about the real estate market and the country's ban on cryptocurrencies.
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TORONTO — Canada's main stock index concluded its third losing week in a row by giving back some of its recent gains amid concerns out of China about the real estate market and the country's ban on cryptocurrencies.

Markets were hit early Friday by China's decision to declare digital currencies like Bitcoin illegal. That particularly affected the technology sector.

Canadian digital asset miner Hut 8 Mining Corp. lost 5.3 per cent to push the technology sector down 1.2 per cent.

There were also suggestions that Evergrande may have missed a debt payment, renewing questions about its solvency and the potential spillover effects on the global economy.

Evergrande has caused the market this week to focus on China's real estate and real estate finance and assess whether the key driver of the country's economy may be weaker for a significant period of time, says Geoff Castle, portfolio manager for PenderFund.

"I think that the headlines around Evergrande are kind of a bit of a late reflection of something that's been kind of a decade in the making, which is a bit of a potentially unsustainable situation in the Chinese property market," he said in an interview.

Investors are also considering the knock-on effects of Evergrande on commodities, interest rates and the availability of credit throughout Asia.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 59.27 points to 20,402.66, losing 87.7 points over a topsy-turvy week.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 33.18 points at 34,798.00. The S&P 500 index was up 6.50 points at 4,455.48, while the Nasdaq composite was down 4.54 points at 15,047.70.

Health care and technology led the nine sectors that lost ground on the TSX.

The sector that includes cannabis producers fell 2.8 per cent as shares of Cronos Group Inc. and Canopy Growth Corp. decreased 5.1 and 4.5 per cent, respectively.

Materials slipped even as metal prices rose.

The December gold contract was up US$1.90 at US$1,751.70 an ounce and the December copper contract was up 5.45 cents at nearly US$4.29 a pound. 

Energy was the leading sector on the day, gaining 1.3 per cent on higher energy prices. 

The November crude oil contract was up 68 cents at US$73.98 per barrel and the November natural gas contract was up 15.7 cents at US$5.20 per mmBTU. 

Whitecap Resources Inc. gained 9.3 per cent while Enerplus Inc. was up 4.8 per cent.

The energy sector currently faces attractive operating conditions, said Castle, as crude oil prices have rebounded to their highest level since mid July and natural gas prices continue to be strong.

"You're seeing as a result quite significant drawdowns in the product inventories and that means prices have been a bit higher, which means companies that are involved in that sector continue to be quite profitable right now," he said.

"And then the market is trying to gauge the degree that that will continue to be the case."

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.86 cents US compared with 79.03 cents US on Thursday. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2021. 

Companies in this story: (TSX:HUT, TSX:WCP, TSX:ERF, TSX:CRON, TSX:WEED, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) 

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press