Energy stocks lead Toronto stock market lower amid huge April employment miss

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TORONTO – Falling energy stocks led the Toronto stock market lower for a second consecutive day Friday.

The S&P/TSX composite index lost 11.97 points to 14,534.06 amid weak jobs data.

The Canadian dollar tumbled 0.62 of a cent to 91.78 cents US as Statistics Canada reported that the economy cut 28,900 jobs in April against expectations of a gain of about 12,000. It was also a huge turnaround from the previous month when the economy cranked out 43,000 jobs, which means just 14,000 jobs were added over the two-month period.

The unemployment rate held steady at 6.9 per cent.

U.S. indexes registered modest gains as the Dow Jones industrials rose 32.37 points to 16,583.34, the Nasdaq climbed 20.37 points to 4,071.87 and the S&P 500 index added 2.84 points to 1,878.47.

The TSX was negative this week after three weeks of advances, down 1.57 per cent after traders digested a heavy slate of earnings news and took some profits from sectors that have run up sharply this year, including gold and energy stocks. But it is still one of the best performing stock indexes, up almost seven per cent year to date, a gain that many analysts believe the TSX would register for the whole year.

“It’s been a good start to the year,” said Chris King, portfolio manager at Morgan, Meighen and Associates.

“We’re up 6.5 per cent or so, I mean, that’s your annual return and we’re already there in May.”

It was a quiet day for earnings news as shares in The Second Cup Ltd. (TSX:SCU) lost 22 cents or 4.54 per cent to $4.63 as the coffee chain reported a drop in its first-quarter net income to $56,000, or one cent per share, compared with $688,000, or seven cents per share, in the same quarter of 2013. Revenue was up at $7.6 million, compared with $6.2 million year-over-year.

On Thursday, after markets closed, energy producer Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) said that quarterly net income totalled $622 million or 57 cents per share compared with $213 million or 19 cents in the prior-year period. Revenue for the three months ended March 31 rose to almost $4.4 billion from $3.76 billion in the prior-year period and its shares gave back 10 cents to $42.90.

In other corporate developments, The Financial Times reported that Apple is orchestrating a $3.2-billion acquisition of Beats Electronics, the headphone maker and music streaming distributor founded by hip-hop star Dr. Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine. Apple could announce a deal as early as next week and its shares were off 0.4 per cent in New York.

The TSX energy sector led decliners, down 0.56 per cent as June oil gave up early gains to move 27 cents lower to US$99.99 a barrel.

The gold sector gained about 0.2 per cent while June bullion faded a dime to US$1,287.60 an ounce.

The base metals group was ahead 0.42 per cent as July copper was up two cents to US$3.08 a pound amid some positive inflation news from China.

Consumer prices in the world’s second-largest economy rose 1.8 per cent over a year earlier, down from March’s 2.4 per cent increase, giving the government more leeway if needed to stimulate the slowing economy.

Note to readers: This is a corrected version. It corrects income to $56,000 for Second Cup in its first quarter versus $688,000 a year earlier

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