Economy & Markets

Canadian dollar edges down

By Aleksandra Sagan |
Source: The Canadian Press

Major North American stock indices declined Friday after disappointing U.S. economic data and weak corporate earnings.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index fell 12.67 points to 15,537.88.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 22.81 points to 20,896.61, while the S&P 500 index shed 3.54 points to 2,390.90. The Nasdaq composite index gained 5.27 points to 6,121.23.

Those drops came as the U.S. Department of Commerce said retails sales in April rose 0.4% from March, falling below already-low analyst expectations, said Patrick Blais, a senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

Shares of major department stores also fell Friday.

Nordstrom's stock, for example, slipped US$5.01, or 10.84%, to US$41.20 after the company released its first-quarter results Thursday. The Seattle-based chain's same-store sales, which dropped by 0.8%, fell below analyst expectations.

"It kind of re-emphasized the risk that consumer spending will stay weak," said Blais.

Consumer spending is a large part of the American economy, accounting for some 60% of GDP, he said. If U.S. consumers aren't spending the fear is GDP growth will slow.

Embattled alternative mortgage lender Home Capital Group Inc. also played a role in dragging down the Toronto stock index, said Blais.

The company's shares lost more of their worth than any other company on the TSX Friday, falling $1.67, or 15.45%, to $9.14.

Home Capital held its quarterly conference call with analysts earlier in the day and said it's not the company's priority to sell itself or its assets, despite a number of interested buyers and investors.

Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar fell 0.04 of a U.S. cent to an average value of US72.92¢.

In commodities, the June crude contract gained a penny to US$47.84 per barrel and June gold rose US$3.50 to US$1,227.70 an ounce.

The June natural gas contract advanced US4.8¢ to US$3.42 per mmBTU and the July copper contract gained US1.6¢ to US$2.52 a pound.

With files from the Associated Press