TSX advances amid strong growth reading, high hopes for US holiday shopping

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market ended higher Friday amid a stronger than expected showing for third-quarter economic growth in Canada, while indications pointed to a successful start to the U.S. holiday shopping season.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 24.57 points to 13,395.40.

The Canadian dollar weakened despite higher commodity prices and a report from Statistics Canada that gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 2.7 per cent in the third quarter. That was better than the 2.5 per cent pace that economists had expected.

GDP growth in September was ahead 0.3 per cent from the previous month versus the 0.2 per cent rise that had been expected.

At the same time, the agency revised second-quarter growth downward to 1.6 per cent from 1.7 per cent.

The loonie lost 0.3 of a cent to 94.16 cents US as the greenback gained ground against other currencies.

U.S. indexes largely ran out of steam as New York markets operated on a shortened post-Thanksgiving session, which ended at 1 p.m. ET.

The Dow Jones industrials closed down 10.92 points to 16,086.41, the Nasdaq ran ahead 15.14 points to 4,059.89, and the S&P 500 index was 1.42 points lower at 1,805.81.

Black Friday has been traditionally the start to the busy shopping season, sandwiched between U.S. Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was named Black Friday because that is when retailers are said to begin moving out of the red and into the black, or becoming profitable.

In the past few years, however, U.S. retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night and Canadian retailers have begun to promote Black Friday sales in this country.

“Everybody likes a good deal, right?”, said John Tsagarelis, portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management, adding that retailers are operating at a disadvantage this year.

“This Christmas, just because of where U.S. Thanksgiving falls at the end of the month, there are six less days during the Christmas shopping season. So a lot of retailers are expecting sales that, even with the six less days, are flat, but that I suspect is optimistic.”

Sales’ figures for this year’s U.S. Thanksgiving and Black Friday will trickle out in the next couple days, but some big chains were already proclaiming Friday morning that the start to the holiday shopping season had been successful.

The much-battered gold sector led advancers on the TSX as the February bullion contract, which was the most active, rose $12.50 to US$1,250.40 a barrel. Argonaut Gold (TSX:AR) improved by 24 cents to C$5.61 while Centerra Gold (TSX:CG) rose 13 cents to $3.18.

The industrials sector was ahead 0.6 per cent with Canadian National Railways (TSX:CNR) ahead $1.01 to $119.51.

The energy sector rose 0.4 per cent as oil prices moved higher after losing ground the previous four sessions because of concerns of rising supplies in the United States. Data released Wednesday showed inventories up last week for a 10th week in a row.

Oil has declined from about US$110 in September partially due to reduced tensions in the oil-rich Middle East, but mostly attributed to muted demand and high supplies.

On Friday, the January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed 42 cents to settle at US$92.72 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) advanced 16 cents to C$34.58.

Base metals slipped 0.6 per cent while March copper gained 1.5 cents to US$3.21 a pound.

Elsewhere on the corporate front, Nova Scotia’s energy regulator has approved a revised agreement from energy company Emera (TSX:EMA) to proceed with the $1.5-billion Maritime Link project, which would ship hydroelectricity from the Muskrat Falls project in Labrador to Nova Scotia. Emera shares were down 14 cents to $29.31.

In other corporate developments, Saputo’s bid to buy Australia’s oldest dairy processor hit a snag Friday when a regulator ordered the Canadian cheese giant to take a two-month break in adding to its shares in Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.

The Australian Takeovers Panel responded to an application from Murray Goulburn Co-operative by placing an interim order on the company (TSX:SAP), which has accumulated nearly 10 per cent of Warrnambool shares, according to information released in Australia. Saputo gained seven cents to $48.63.