The Toronto stock market chalked up a modest loss late morning Friday following data showing severe winter weather taking a bigger than expected bite out of Canadian economic growth and slowing U.S. consumer spending.
The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 30.34 points to 14,558.61 as Statistics Canada said gross domestic product advanced at an annualized pace of 1.2% for the first quarter.
Economists had expected a gain of about 1.8%. It was also down from a 2.7% annualized pace in the final quarter of last year. On a monthly basis, GDP was up 0.1% during March, in line with expectations.
The Canadian dollar lost early momentum after the report came out and was down of 0.18 of a cent to 92.1 cents US.
The GDP data came out ahead of the Bank of Canada’s next interest rate announcement scheduled for Wednesday.
U.S. markets were mixed amid lacklustre consumer data.
Consumer spending slipped 0.1% in April, the first decline in a year. Consumer spending had jumped 1% in March, the biggest gain since the summer of 2009.
“Call this payback from the upwardly revised 1% jump in the prior month and the quarter, for that matter,” said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Jennifer Lee.
“Still, this is not a good way to start what should be a strong Q2,” Lee said.
And the University of Michigan’s widely-watched consumer sentiment came in at 81.9 during May, below the 82.5 reading that economists had expected.
The Dow Jones industrials were down 25.14 points to 16,673.6, the Nasdaq rose 1.99 points to 4,249.93 and the S&P 500 index edged 1.21 points higher to 1,921.24.
On the corporate front, French energy giant Total E&P Canada said late Thursday that it is putting its Joslyn oilsands project northwest of Fort McMurray, Alta., on hold indefinitely due to escalating costs. Total has a 38.25% stake in the project, while Suncor Energy has 36.75%, Occidental Petroleum has 15% and Inpex Canada has 10%. On Friday, Suncor shares were unchanged at $41.71.
The TSX base metals sector led the way lower, down 1.2% while the July copper contract was down a cent at US$3.14 a pound.
The gold sector was off 0.7% as the August gold contract faded $11.20 to US$1,245.90 an ounce.
The June crude oil contract lost 85 cents to US$102.73 a barrel and the energy sector declined a slight 0.05%.
The TSX is on its way to a losing week, largely because of sliding mining stocks. The gold sector has fallen 6% over the past week while base metals have shed about 4%.
Gold prices in particular have been under heavy pressure this week with markets feeling more comfortable about the Ukraine crisis and more concern about deflation rather than inflation, particularly in Europe. In addition to falling bullion prices, the costs of getting gold out of the ground have increased.
The financials sector is ending the week flat even as most of the big banks breezed past analyst expectations for adjusted earnings.