Soft data, commodity prices take TSX to one-week low

Fri May 31, 2013 5:18pm EDT
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index retreated sharply on Friday as lower commodity prices triggered a slump in shares of natural resource companies and weak economic data out of Europe and the United States dampened investor sentiment.

While almost every major sector declined, the index still looked on track for a gain in May, reversing losses in the previous two months.

South of the border, U.S. stocks ended down 1 percent on Friday, but all three index were positive for the month, with the S&P 500 .SPX rising 14.34 percent so far this year - its best first five months since 1997.

The TSX, which is up about 1.6 percent this month and 1.7 percent for 2013, slipped 0.2 percent on the week.

"It wasn't really surprising to see a degree of profit-taking on the last day of the month," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished 96.13 points, or 0.8 percent lower, at 12,650.42, after falling as low as 12,620.08 earlier.

Data showed that unemployment reached a new high in the euro zone and inflation remained well below the European Central Bank's target. U.S. consumer spending fell in April for the first time in almost a year and inflation pressures were subdued, pointing to a slowdown in economic activity.

The commodities-exporting market, which has been hit sharply this year by volatility in resource prices, reacts to global economic trends because of its large exposure to materials and energy stocks.   Continued...

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch