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Toronto's S&P/TSX index closes with a loss after high-growth year

TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index ended a banner year with a whimper on Tuesday, posting lower results in light trading ahead of the New Year’s Day holiday.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 35.13 points at 17,063.43.

The letdown after a nearly 21 per cent rise in the index over the past 12 months was likely accentuated by low trading volumes, said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.

“You’ve got maybe some people doing some profit-taking before the end of the year and not many people stepping up to buy,” he said in an interview.

“We’re still between the holidays, volumes are light, and there’s not much to read into the markets.”

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 76.03 points to 28,538.44. The index rose by about 22 per cent in 2019.

The S&P 500 index gained 9.49 points at 3,230.78, capping a year when it rose about 29 per cent, while the Nasdaq composite was up 26.61 points at 8,972.60, in line for a gain of about 35 per cent for the year.

The weakness in the Canadian market at year-end is likely temporary and strength could return if the U.S. economy picks up or if global commodity prices rise, said Cieszynski.

“It was a really good year. A broad base, which was nice,” he said.

“So often, when people think of Canada, they look at the banks or materials or miners or the energy companies, but they weren’t driving the bus this year.

“It was more things like technology and industrials that were the sectors that were driving the markets.”

Tuesday’s decline on the Toronto market was broad-based — only the health care and energy segments rose.

Shares in HLS Therapeutics Inc. jumped 22.3 per cent or $4.65 to $25.50 after it announced Health Canada had approved the use of its Vascepa mediation to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in high-risk patients.

Shares in Canopy Growth Corp. rose 11.4 per cent or $2.80 to $27.31, while cancer treatment firm Oncolytics Biotech Inc. gained 21.5 per cent or $1.09 to $6.15.

The Canadian dollar traded at 76.99 cents US on Tuesday, up from Monday’s average of 76.58 cents US.

The February crude contract was down 50 cents at $61.18 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was down 0.3 cents at 2.183 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was up $1.80 at US$1,520.40 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 3.55 cents at US$2.798 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2019.

Index and currency in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD, TSX:WEED, TSX:ONC, TSX:HLS)

The Canadian Press