TSX falls for fourth day as oil prices hit 2022 low

FILE PHOTO: A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange stock information is seen in Toronto

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index edged lower on Wednesday to its lowest closing level in nearly three weeks as a drop in oil prices weighed on energy shares and the Bank of Canada raised interest rates to the highest level in almost 15 years.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended down 16.95 points, or 0.1%, at 19,973.22, its fourth straight day of declines and its lowest closing level since Nov. 17.

U.S. benchmark the S&P 500 also dipped as investors weighed potential recession fears linked to the pace of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy tightening.

The Bank of Canada hiked its key policy rate by half a percentage point to 4.25%, the highest level since January 2008, but the market impact was limited by a signal its unprecedented tightening campaign was near an end.

The energy sector fell 0.6% as the price of oil settled down 3% at $72.01 a barrel, its lowest level of the year, driven by a report showing bigger-than-expected increases in U.S. fuel stocks.

"This report shows the economy is clearly weakening and does not give energy bulls any reasons to buy into this weakness," Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York, said in a note.

Heavily-weighted financials dipped 0.4% and technology ended 0.5% lower.

Helping to cap declines for the TSX were gains for the consumer discretionary and consumer staples sectors, up 1.2% and 0.7% respectively.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.8% as gold and copper prices rose.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Additional reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; editing by Diane Craft)