The TSX and S&P 500 made a last-minute push into positive territory late Monday and joined the Nasdaq in closing at records highs, as traders awaited this week’s Federal Reserve meeting. While the tech sector saw strong gains in Canada, uranium stocks plunged amid a report from CNN that said the U.S. is assessing a possible leak at a Chinese nuclear power facility.
Uranium giant Cameco fell 10%, and Energy Fuels and NexGen Energy both fell more than 9%. Uranium is used primarily as feedstock in the nuclear industry and has recently rallied sharply in anticipation of greater consumption as the world shifts towards greener energy sources.
CNN cited unnamed U.S. officials, and documents it reviewed, as saying Washington has spent the past week assessing the reported leak, after a French company that partly owns and helps operate it warned of an “imminent radiological threat.”
Despite the notification from French company Framatome, the Biden administration believes the facility is not yet at a “crisis level,” one of the sources said. China’s Taishan Nuclear Power Plant said accusations of dangerous levels of radiation leakage at the facility were untrue. It claimed its two reactors were operating normally as its French partner said it called for a meeting with its Chinese counterpart to resolve a “performance issue” at the plant.
The S&P/TSX Composite index closed up 19.30 points, or 0.10%, at 20,157.65. Gains were led by a 2.1% bounce in the tech sector, thanks mostly to a 4.4% rally in shares of Shopify.
Investors are seeking new cues from the Federal Reserve on its inflation outlook, after recent data indicated the U.S. economy is regaining momentum but not overheating. This has eased investor worries about inflation.
While the Fed has reassured that any spike in inflation would be transitory, policymakers could begin discussing the tapering of bond buying at the Tuesday-Wednesday meeting. Most analysts, however, do not expect a decision before the central bank’s annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming, conference in August.
Any shift in the Fed’s dovish rhetoric could upend equity markets. The S&P benchmark has climbed 13.1% this year, while the Dow and the Nasdaq have risen 12.7% and 9.2%, respectively.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85.85 points, or 0.25%, to 34,393.75, the S&P 500 gained 7.71 points, or 0.18%, to 4,255.15 and the Nasdaq Composite added 104.72 points, or 0.74%, to 14,174.14.
“There are really good arguments on both sides of the inflation debate, but to think it’s a good idea to make substantive changes right now, based on continued increase in inflation or a transitory rate, seems silly to me,” said Mark Stoeckle, CEO and senior portfolio manager of the Adams Funds.
High-growth tech-related stocks, which were at the heart of a sell-off driven by fears of rising rates, have regained their footing this month at the expense of economy-linked industrials , financials and materials stocks.
On Wall Street, the S&P technology index closed at 2,515, just shy of its highest-ever finish on April 26. It was one of a half-dozen sectors that ended in positive territory. Materials and financials were the leading laggards.
Lordstown Motors Corp tumbled 18.8% after it said Chief Executive Steve Burns and Chief Financial Officer Julio Rodriguez have resigned, days after the electric-truck maker warned that it may not have enough cash to stay in business over the next year.
The news weighed on special purpose acquisition companies that are trying to merge with electric-vehicle manufacturers, as Lordstown Motors did. Churchill Capital Corp IV, which is combining with Lucid Motors, and ArcLight Clean Transition Corp, which announced a tie-up with electric bus maker Proterra, fell 4.1% and 4.8% respectively.
“There are a lot of bad companies, but there are some good companies in these SPACs that are going to be good opportunities at some point. You just have to have a lot of patience,” said Stoeckle.
Tesla gained 1.3% as CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the electric-car maker may resume bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin vaulted back above $40,000 on Musk’s comments.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.80 billion shares, compared with the 10.57 billion average over the last 20 trading days. The S&P 500 posted 35 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 130 new highs and 24 new lows.
Oil prices ended mostly unchanged on Monday, after hitting their highest levels in more than two years, as growing U.S. crude production and Britain’s delayed COVID-19 reopening dampened expectations for fuel demand growth and tighter supplies.
The market reacted negatively to a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast that shale oil output, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. production, was expected to rise by about 38,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July to about 7.8 million bpd.
“We started off strong on expectations that the demand situation was building momentum as COVID vaccinations were high,” said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “Then the EIA report took the winds out of the sail.”
Brent settled up 17 cents at US$72.86 a barrel. Earlier in the session, it reached $73.64 a barrel, its highest since April 2019.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate fell 3 cents to settle at $70.88 a barrel, after earlier touching $71.78 a barrel, its highest since October 2018.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields rose four basis points on Monday to 1.50%, after falling to a three-month low of 1.43% on Friday. They have dropped from a one-year high of 1.78% in March.
Read more: Stocks that saw action on Monday - and why
With files from Reuters
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