Apple move to close some U.S. stores over virus infections spooks stock markets

Apple move to close some U.S. stores over virus infections spooks stock markets

TORONTO — The decision by Apple to close some U.S. stores again over rising COVID-19 infections spooked investors and sent most North American stock markets lower to end the week.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up down 5.63 points at 15,474.20 after being higher for most of the day.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 208.64 points at 25,871.46. The S&P 500 index was down 17.42 points at 3,097.92, while the Nasdaq composite was up 3.07 points at 9,946.12.

Markets responded around midday after the tech retailing giant said it was closing 11 stores in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina that it had reopened just a few weeks ago.

There’s always been a concern that we could see a resurgence of infections later in the year, said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at HollisWealth.

“I think this was the first time where somebody acted on this idea of increased cases versus up until now it’s been all talk,” he said in an interview.

Small said markets will always wonder if this move is the start of something bigger and serve as a template for states and companies facing rising coronavirus cases.

The rest of the day was fairly steady with markets moving slightly on a lack of any economic data.

“It’s been a pretty uneventful day,” he said.

“It just seems like it’s one of those days where there really isn’t a major headline other than this continuation of a bit of a fear out there that virus cases are increasing in the southern United States and southwest.”

The TSX was helped by a positive day for the materials sector, which gained 2.55 per cent on higher metals prices as Centerra Gold Inc. surged 9.5 per cent.

The August gold contract was up US$21.90 at US$1,753.00 an ounce and the July copper contract was up 2.3 cents at US$2.61 a pound.

Consumer staples rose on Maple Leaf Foods Inc. rising nearly six per cent and technology up with shares of Shopify Inc. up again and Blackberry Ltd. rising 1.2 per cent on 26 million shares traded.

Energy dipped despite higher crude oil prices as Vermilion Energy Inc. rose 4.2 per cent while Baytex Energy Corp. and Suncor Energy Inc. were up about three per cent in heavy trading.

The August crude contract was up 78 cents at US$39.83 per barrel after topping US$40 and the July natural gas contract was up 3.1 cents at nearly US$1.67 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.60 cents US compared with 73.59 cents US on Thursday.

Small said the market has generally taken the risk increased infections in stride with U.S. President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and economic adviser Larry Kudlow indicating they would never shut down the economy again.

“I don’t think the country will shut down but maybe certain spots in the country may and pretty much I think that’s what’s taken down the market today.”

Markets rose for the week but need some type of catalyst like reopenings, kids going back to school or sports coming back to break through new record highs, he said.

“The market fails to see a catalyst for now and I think that is also keeping us range-bound at this level.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:SHOP, TSX:BB, TSX:SU, TSX:VET, TSX:BTE, TSX:MFI, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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