TORONTO – An uptick in the price of gold helped boost the Toronto stock market to a higher close, while U.S. markets finished lower following indications of a relatively tepid start to the holiday shopping season.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index gained 101.59 points to 13,469.83, while the loonie was up 0.11 of a U.S. cent, rising to 74.89 cents U.S.
The global gold sector led the way higher on the TSX, rising 2.66 per cent, while the materials sector climbed 2.35 per cent.
In New York, the Dow Jones average of 30 stocks slipped 78.57 points to 17,719.92, while the broader S&P 500 lost 9.70 points to 2,080.41 and the Nasdaq gave back 18.85 points to 5,108.67.
U.S. retail stocks fell after initial data from Black Friday and the first holiday shopping weekend showed consumers were not going to stores as much as last year.
Preliminary ShopperTrak data showed in-store sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday were $12.1 billion, down from $12.3 billion in 2014.
Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, said traders south of the border are likely to take a wait-and-see approach ahead of the release of November’s jobs data, out on Friday.
“This is the last reading on employment that we’re going to get before the Fed meeting in December,” said Fehr.
“So to the extent that we get another strong month of job growth in the U.S., it probably puts another hash mark in the column of the Fed having the support to ultimately start to raise rates after all these years of zero interest rate policy.”
On commodity markets, the February contract for gold rose $9.10 to US$1,065.30 an ounce, while March copper fell one cent to US$2.05 a pound.
The January contract for benchmark crude fell six cents to US$41.65 a barrel, while January natural gas advanced 2.3 cents to US$2.235 per mmBtu.
Fehr said the boost to Canadian gold and materials stocks likely stems from a number of economic indicators from China in recent weeks suggesting that the economy may be levelling out following a prolonged period of deceleration.
“We’ve seen what a heavy influence China has played to the downside on commodity prices over the past year, year and a half,” said Fehr. “I think any even remote signs of positive trends in China are going to have a decent reaction in the commodities markets, and I think that’s what we’re seeing today in the TSX relative to other global indices.”
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