By Fergal Smith
TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock index fell on Friday to a three-week low as geopolitical uncertainty weighed on investor sentiment ahead of a long weekend, with energy and healthcare shares leading broadbased declines.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended down 168.13 points, or 0.8%, at 21,008.20, its lowest closing level since Jan. 28. For the week, the index was down 2.5%. It follows three straight weeks of gains.
Wall Street’s main stock indexes also fell as escalating tensions in Ukraine and U.S. statements of an imminent Russian invasion prompted investors to dump risky assets.
Monday is a market holiday for U.S. and Canadian financial markets.
“The political situation in Ukraine remains fluid,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management. “There remain all kinds of threats, accusations, speculations, rumors and denials over whether an invasion of Ukraine by Russia may be imminent or not.”
The energy sector fell 2.4% as the price of U.S. oil settled 0.8% lower at $91.07 a barrel, pressured by the prospect of increased Iranian oil exports.
Healthcare was down 3.5% and the materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 1.1%.
On the economic front, Canadian retail sales rose 2.4% in January from December, preliminary data from Statistics Canada showed, following on a 1.8% decline in December as consumers stayed home amid concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Among individual names, Air Canada gained 3.1% after the carrier reported a smaller fourth-quarter loss, powered by strong holiday demand.
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(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Will Dunham and Alistair Bell)