TORONTO – The Toronto stock market turned modestly lower and the loonie fell against the greenback Friday, while markets south of the border took a beating despite positive retail sales data for April.
The S&P/TSX composite index slipped 39.22 points to 13,748.58, after finishing flat for two straight days.
The metals and mining sector of the TSX was hit the hardest, falling 1.79 per cent, while energy stocks declined 0.73 per cent. Health-care stocks gained 2.18 per cent, while the gold sector was up 1.81 per cent.
Meanwhile, the oil-sensitive Canadian dollar lost 0.61 of a U.S. cent to 77.31 cents US.
The June contract for benchmark North American crude slumped 49 cents to US$46.21 a barrel as it continued to trade in a narrow range, although at the best levels the commodity has seen in six months.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 185.18 points to 17,535.32 and the broader S&P 500 shed 17.50 points to 2,046.61, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 19.65 points to 4,717.68.
That’s despite new data on U.S. retail sales from the Commerce Department that suggests consumer spending rebounded in April after a weak first quarter.
“There were a lot of earnings releases over the week from a number of department stores and the numbers were shockingly bad, so it’s a little bit of a sigh of relief today,” said Patrick Blais, managing director and senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.
“It seems as though the U.S. economy is still on track to grow. It might be muted, but at the very least it still seems to have some traction, according to today’s data.”
Retailers have seen their stocks plunge this week, with Macy’s and Kohl’s among those whose shares have seen double-digit retreats.
On Friday, Nordstrom slashed its annual projections and said a key measure of sales fell for the first time in almost seven years. Stock in Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) fell US$6.07 or 13.42 per cent to US$39.16.
J.C. Penney’s and Dillard’s also reported earnings that fell shy of analyst expectations. J.C. Penney’s shares fell nearly three per cent, while Dillard’s saw its stock slip 1.29 per cent.
“It’s been a shaky earnings season,” said Blais.
“We can’t look to the earnings powers of the companies to drive the market.”
Elsewhere in commodities, July natural gas fell six cents to US$2.10 per mmBtu, July copper was unchanged at US$2.07 a pound and June gold edged up US$1.50 to US$1,272.70 a troy ounce.
“That’s probably the biggest surprise within the Canadian market — that gold is holding in even though you would expect it to be down, given the fact that statistics in the U.S. are good,” said Blais.
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