TORONTO: Canada’s main stock index fell to a one-month low on Tuesday over worries that existing vaccines may not hold up against the COVID-19 Omicron variant, with a decline in crude prices dragging heavyweight oil stocks.
Warnings from US drugmakers Moderna and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals that their COVID-19 vaccines and antibody cocktails could be less effective against the new coronavirus variant intensified selling in global financial markets.
Ottawa Public Health said late on Monday that two more cases of Omicron were detected in the city, bringing Canada’s total number of cases to five.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 104.45 points, or 0.49%, at 21,044.5 as of 09:43 a.m. ET (14:43 GMT), as investors worried about the impact of movement restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
The day’s losses pushed Canada’s main stock index marginally into the red for the month, after jumping almost 5% in October.
The energy sector dropped 1.5% as US crude prices were down 3.1% a barrel, while Brent crude lost 3.4%.
“Canada is basically getting caught up in a general pullback in equity markets around the world,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.
But Cieszynski said a positive start to bank earnings season after a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit for Bank of Nova Scotia, and rallying gold prices could support the market as the day progresses.
The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners, added 0.6% as gold futures rose 0.7% to $1,793.9 an ounce, while silver gained 1.6%.