Economy & Markets

The loonie saw a small gain as commodities were mixed

By Linda Nguyen |
Source: The Canadian Press

Stock indices in Toronto and New York finished the session flat on Monday while the Canadian dollar squeezed out a tiny gain.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index pulled back 9.45 points to 15,165.36. Metals and materials stocks were the index's biggest gainers, while industrials and consumer staples stocks provided the largest drag.

In major corporate news, Calgary-based Dominion Diamond Corp., one of the world's largest diamond producers, is endorsing a US$1.2-billion friendly cash takeover bid from the Washington Cos. Dominion Diamond's shares rose 5.56%, or 94¢, to $17.85.

It was a similarly quiet trading session in New York as the Dow Jones industrial average lost 8.02 points to 21,629.72, the S&P 500 index dipped 0.13 of a point to 2,459.14 and the Nasdaq composite index saw an uptick of 1.96 points to 6,314.43.

Last Friday, both the Dow and S&P reached all-time highs following a soft retail sales report that gave investors more hope that the U.S. Federal Reserve Board will be cautious about raising interest rates.

"We've seen a similar pattern develop over the last several Mondays, and I think it's an environment where investors are content to see the markets move sideways in the absence of any real, meaningful data," says Craig Fehr, a Canadian markets strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.

"As we tread through the back end of the summer, we're typically going to see markets take on a little more of a sluggish pace just because there are fewer traders on the floor and fewer eyeballs looking at the market and more so looking at the sand and ocean."

In currencies, the loonie gained 0.02 of a cent to an average price of US78.93¢.

Last week, the loonie soared almost a full cent in the wake of the Bank of Canada's decision to raise its key interest rate for the first time in almost seven years.

Fehr says the dollar is trending higher on expectations of robust growth, but he thinks it will likely stay range-bound at the mid-70¢ level on signs of weakening retail sales and softer Canadian housing market.

"I don't think the loonie is necessarily going to hold over time but I don't think it's going to collapse either," he said. "As I look forward, economic growth in Canada is going to remain fairly sluggish in the back half of the year after a pretty strong start."

Commodities were mixed, with the August crude contract down by US52¢ to US$46.02 a barrel and the August natural gas contract ahead US4¢ to US$3.02 per mmBTU.

The August gold contract was up $6.20 to US$1,233.70 an ounce and the September copper contract gained US3¢ at US$2.72 a pound.