Toronto stock market slightly lower as commodities prices pull back

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market ended flat on Tuesday as the price retreat by key commodities continued.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed 5.25 points lower at 14,620.07 with both the gold and metals sectors lower. Over the past three sessions, the TSX has fallen more than 400 points.

The Canadian dollar slipped 0.51 of a cent to 87.77 cents US.

The energy sector made small gains, rising 0.4 per cent even as the January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed down $2.12 at US$66.88 a barrel.

Mining and metals stocks fell 0.1 per cent, as March copper lost 6.5 cents to US$2.892 a pound. February gold bullion moved down $18.70 to close at US$1,199.40 an ounce.

“The volatility is still very high, which keeps a lot of traditional portfolio managers out of the complex for the time being,” said Sid Mokhtari, a market technician at CIBC World Markets in an interview

“You’re probably going to see some bargain hunting as you go into year-end, especially after the tax-loss selling season typically ends within the first two weeks of December.”

TSX financials slid 0.7 per cent after Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) kicked off the banks’ earnings season with fourth-quarter profits that were weaker than analysts expected.

The bank reported $1.07 billion of net income in the fourth quarter, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, it had $1.111 billion of earnings or $1.63 per share — five cents below estimates.

Its main Canadian banking operations showed strong 14 per cent growth but that was offset by declines at BMO’s capital markets and wealth segments. BMO shares closed down $1.87, or 2.25 per cent, at $81.42.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials closed at a record high, rising 102.75 points to 17,879.55, while the Nasdaq lifted 28.46 points to 4,755.81. The S&P 500 index gained 13.11 points to 2,066.55.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) reported stronger U.S. sales last month, which provided a boost to the automaker’s stock, while shares of Avanir Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:AVNR) soared 13 per cent after the company agreed to be acquired by Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceutical for $3.5 billion in cash.

In the energy sector, TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) says it will halt all work on an oil terminal in eastern Quebec in response to concerns the project could hurt a beluga whale habitat. The Cacouna terminal was planned to be one of the last stops for the crude from the proposed Energy East pipeline before being loaded onto oil tankers and shipped overseas. TransCanada shares were up 90 cents at $55.10.

On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada makes its next announcement on interest rates. Canada’s central bank is universally expected to leave its key rate unchanged at one per cent, where it’s been for more than four years. The Bank of England and European Central Bank make their rate announcements on Thursday.

The week ends with November job creation numbers from both Canada and the United States.

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Note to readers: This is a corrected story: A previous version had an incorrect closing price for BMO stock