TSX ends lower in first post-Christmas trading session; Wall Street bounds ahead

TORONTO – Sinking metals prices overshadowed a bump in crude oil on Tuesday — dragging the Toronto stock market to a lower finish.

The S&P/TSX composite index ended the session down 64.05 points at 13,245.75 as trading resumed after the Boxing Day holiday.

But it was a different story south of the border where markets had resumed trading on Monday.

Improvements in the value of U.S. technology and health-care companies helped boost Wall Street prices, along with an improvement in the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index.

The Dow Jones soared 192.71 points to 17,720.98, while the S&P 500 advanced 21.86 points to 2,078.36 and the Nasdaq shot up 66.95 points to 5,107.94.

The Canadian dollar made a slight gain, up 0.11 of a cent at 72.34 cents U.S.

Traders are putting the final touches on the books for the last trading week of the year, which in Canada will only be three days. Stock markets on both side of the border are closed Friday for New Year’s Day.

Canada’s main index had finished in the black in the previous five trading days leading into the Christmas holiday period, adding about 300 points, but looks to be on track to wind up the year about 10 per cent lower.

Driving the TSX lower on Tuesday were metals and mining stocks, which fell 3.5 per cent, as February gold closed down 30 cents at US$1,068.00 an ounce. March copper advanced six cents to US$2.14 a pound.

“The most painful trade of 2015 has been the base and precious metals,” said Matt Barasch, head of Canadian Equities in the portfolio advisory group at RBC Wealth Management.

“As we get to the waning days of (the year) I’m not sure that anybody really wants to show much in terms of ownership of these names.”

Elsewhere in commodities, the February contract for benchmark crude oil rose $1.06 to US$37.87 a barrel, while February natural gas added 11 cents to US$2.37 per mmBtu. However, the energy sector on the TSX was also lower, down 0.70 per cent.

In corporate news, shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (TSX:VRX) fell C$17.49 or 11 per cent to $140.19 on news that Michael Pearson, CEO of the embattled drugmaker, is in hospital being treated for pneumonia.

Meanwhile, Pep Boys (NYSE:PBY) surged $1.53 or almost nine eight per cent to US$18.94 after the auto parts and services retailer received another offer from activist investor Carl Icahn, putting the deal in the neighbourhood of US$1 billion.

Pep Boys stocks have been moving steadily higher over the last two months as a takeover bid from Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone turned into a fight for control with Icahn.

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