TSX slips as banks pull back post-Fed and CN Rail falls

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index slipped on Wednesday, as financial stocks fell after the U.S. Federal Reserve held its interest rates steady and as investors pulled back from Canadian National Railway and grocer Loblaw Cos Ltd after their earnings.

Businessmen pass the Toronto Stock Exchange sing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

The country’s heavyweight banks and its largest insurers lost ground in afternoon trade, with the group ending down 0.6 percent. In addition to holding rates steady, the Fed said it expected to start winding down its massive holdings of bonds “relatively soon, which weighed on yields.

The country’s energy sector, whose companies sell their output in U.S. dollars but incur most of their costs in the Canadian currency, also pared gains late in the day as the loonie hit a two-year high against a retreating greenback, offsetting the benefit of higher crude prices.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 30.98 points, or 0.2 percent, at 15,171.39.

Canadian National Railway Co fell 2.4 percent to C$99.00 despite reporting profit and revenue that beat expectations after the closing bell on Tuesday.

Its smaller rival, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, also dipped, falling 1.3 percent to C$196.31.

Grocery chain operator Loblaw Cos Ltd fell 3.8 percent to C$68.80 after barely beating profit expectations, while electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc lost 5.7 percent to C$15.84 after its earnings missed forecasts.

Bryden Teich, a portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management, which owns both Loblaw and Canadian National stock, said he was not overly concerned by the moves in either stock. He attributed the CN pullback to profit-taking and pointed to signs of operational improvements at Loblaws.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.3 percent, while the industrials group declined 0.9 percent.

Half of the index’s 10 main groups ended in positive territory, with advancers and decliners evenly matched overall.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Leslie Adler