Investors flocked to gold Wednesday against the backdrop of rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, offsetting some of the broad-based declines on the commodity-heavy Toronto stock index.
The S&P/TSX composite index was down 39.02 points to 15,217.33, with most sectors finishing in the red while bullion stocks surged nearly 1.9 per cent.
The December gold contract was ahead $16.70 US to US$1,279.30 an ounce. The precious metal is usually seen as a safe port in times of geopolitical uncertainty.
“The fear trade, which is the gold trade, has helped buoy the Toronto Stock Exchange,” said Allan Small, a senior investment advisor at Holliswealth.
“When there’s fear in the world, if there’s some sort of pending or possible negative event, people buy gold.”
Some investors are on edge after U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea of “fire and fury.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later insisted the U.S. isn’t signalling it’s about to mete out a military response despite threats from North Korea suggesting it could attack Guam, a U.S. island territory in the Pacific.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 36.64 points to 22,048.70, the S&P 500 index inched down 0.90 of a point to 2,474.02 and the Nasdaq composite index lost 18.13 points to 6,352.33.
Small attributed a large part of the Dow’s decline to disappointing earnings from Disney after the media giant reported a weak quarter, said it would pull its movies from Netflix and start two of its own video streaming services. The company’s stock dropped $4.15, or 3.88 per cent, to $102.83 US.
In currency markets, the Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 78.71 cents US, down 0.20 of a U.S. cent. That marks the sixth straight trading day of declines for the loonie against a strengthening greenback.
Elsewhere in commodities, the September crude contract was up 39 cents to $49.56 US per barrel, September natural gas advanced six cents at $2.88 US per mmBTU and September copper declined two cents at $2.93 US a pound.