Energy shares depress Toronto stock market ahead of OPEC meeting later this week

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market snapped a six-session run of gains Monday, with energy stocks a major weight ahead of a key meeting of the OPEC oil cartel later this week.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 95.72 points to 15,015.41.

The Canadian dollar lost 0.4 of a cent to 88.58 cents US.

New York’s Dow industrials gained 7.84 points to 17,817.9, the Nasdaq rose 41.92 points to 4,754.89 and the S&P advanced 5.91 points to 2,069.41.

The TSX energy sector fell two per cent as the January crude contract in New York dropped 73 cents to US$75.78 a barrel ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The major question on markets is whether OPEC will respond to sharply lower prices by cutting production.

“In the Canadian market, it’s such a large element, it’s such a large weighting (and) it’s going to significantly influence our market here,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at 3MACS, adding that current prices around $75 seem at the low end.

“I find it hard to believe we’re going to settle in at $60 for example. I would say $75 to $85 to me is comfortable for the economy.”

Oil prices have tumbled about 30 per cent from mid-summer amid rising supplies, lower demand and a strengthening U.S. dollar that has pressured all commodities priced in that currency.

Aside from energy and mining stocks, the mood was fairly positive thanks in part to a surprise interest rate cut by China’s central bank on Friday, its first such move in more than two years. It was seen as a sign of increasing official concern after economic growth tumbled to a five-year low of 7.3 per cent in the latest quarter.

Confidence about Europe also improved Monday after a survey showed German business confidence rose in November after six consecutive months of declines. The Ifo institute said that its confidence index rose to 104.7 points in November from 103.2 points in October.

Elsewhere on the TSX, the base metals sector shed 1.7 per cent while the December copper contract was three cents lower at US$3 a pound.

The gold sector fell one per cent as the December bullion contract lost $2 to US$1,195.70 an ounce.

Advancers were led by a 0.66 per cent rise in industrial stocks and a 0.5 per cent pop in the consumer discretionary sector.

On the corporate front, Toronto-based private equity firm Onex Corp. (TSX:OCX) is buying Swiss food packaging company SIG Combibloc Group AG for as much as $4.66 billion. Onex will pay $4.44 billion at the close of the transaction for SIG and up to an additional $217 million if the company meets financial targets in 2015 and 2016. Onex shares gained 94 cents to $65.10.

Shares in Hudson’s Bay Company (TSX:HBC) ran ahead $1.62 or eight per cent to $21.82 after it announced it was taking out a US$1.25 billion, 20-year mortgage for the ground floor of its Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York.