Toronto market ends slightly down as Magna slides

The facade of the original Toronto Stock Exchange building is seen in Toronto

By Fergal Smith

(Reuters) -Canada’s main stock index edged slightly lower on Tuesday, pressured by a sharp drop in the shares of Magna International Inc and worries that higher borrowing costs would weigh on the corporate earnings outlook.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended down 2.03 points at 20,629.55, after posting on Monday its highest closing level in more than seven months.

The U.S. benchmark index S&P 500 also ended slightly lower.

“The issue for 2023 is going to be watching the lagged effects of the interest rate hikes that occurred last year,” said Brian Madden, chief investment officer at First Avenue Investment Counsel in Toronto.

“The bigger issue for Canada and the U.S. is going to be not so much digesting the rate hikes but resetting expectations for corporate earnings because they are too high, given the macroeconomic environment.”

Investors worry that aggressive interest rate hikes could trigger a recession, with data on Tuesday showing that U.S. business activity contracted for the seventh consecutive month in January.

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The Bank of Canada will hike its key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.5% on Wednesday and then hit pause on its tightening campaign, a Reuters poll of economists showed.

Shares of Magna slumped 7.2% after the automotive supplier cut its earnings margin outlook. That weighed on the consumer discretionary sector, which lost 0.7%.

Technology fell 1.1% and energy was down 1% as U.S. crude oil futures settled 1.8% lower at $80.13 a barrel, giving back some of its recent gains.

A Canadian court dismissed the competition bureau’s effort to block Rogers Communications Inc’s C$20 billion ($14.9 billion) bid to buy Shaw Communications Inc, in a boost to the companies’ efforts to close a deal struck nearly two years ago.

Rogers rose 2.9% and Shaw was up 2.8%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Deepa Babington)