By Fergal Smith
TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock index closed lower on Friday, driven by weakness in resource shares after a plunge in China equities weighed on commodity prices.
Trading was thin, with Wall Street closing early following Thursday’s holiday.
“It’s commodities again, generally, that are hurting the Toronto market and they will continue to do so until their prices bottom,” said Norman Levine, managing director at Portfolio Management Corp.
The energy sector fell 1.4 percent, pressured by a 3 percent tumble in U.S. crude oil prices.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd fell 2.8 percent to C$31.77, while Cenovus Energy Inc was down 1.6 percent at C$19.47.
The materials group dropped 2.1 percent, including weakness in gold stocks as a firm U.S. dollar and a potential Federal Reserve rate hike next month caused gold to drop to a near six-year low.
Barrick Gold Corp fell 4.3 percent to C$9.47, while Goldcorp Inc was down 2.6 percent at C$15.46.
Loblaw Companies Ltd fell 2.6 percent to C$67.52, exposed through its subsidiary, Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation, to a Quebec government proposal that may lower the prices of generic drugs, according to Levine.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc dropped 2.3 percent to C$115.22.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s SP/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 56.95 points, or 0.42 percent, at 13,368.24, with just four of the index’s 10 main groups in negative territory.
For the week, the index was down 0.49 percent, entering a consolidation pattern after probing above the 13,500 threshold intraday last Friday.
Financials firmed 0.1 percent, with the market awaiting bank earnings reports next week.
“Expectations are low,” said Levine, noting “the Canadian consumer is so extended here that new loan growth is not that visible to us.”
Also helping support the index, Canadian National Railway rose 0.5 percent to C$79.67, while Shaw Communications Inc was up 1.1 percent at C$27.47.
U.S. crude prices settled at $41.71 a barrel, down 3.1 percent, while Brent crude lost 1.3 percent to $44.87.[O/R]
Gold futures fell 1.3 percent to $1,055.9 an ounce. [GOL/]
Copper prices declined 1.4 percent to $4,572.85 a tonne. [MET/L]
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Dan Grebler)
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