TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed solidly in the red amid a weak report on retail sales and listless commodity prices.The S&P/TSX composite index was down 40.34 points at 13,433.49 after an otherwise solid performance over the week that saw strong advances in three of the four previous trading sessions.The Canadian dollar also weakened, losing 0.27 of a U.S. cent to 74.93 cents U.S.On commodity markets, the January contract for benchmark crude oil was up 18 cents at US$41.90 a barrel, while December natural gas plunged 13 cents to US$2.14 per mmBtu.December gold gave back $1.60 to US$1,076.30 an ounce, while December copper shed two cents to US$2.05 a pound.In New York, indexes completed one of their best weeks of the year as traders took heart from strong earnings reports from a number of retailers and a generally favourable view of where the U.S. Federal Reserve is going on interest rate hikes.The Dow Jones industrials was up 91.06 points at 17,823.81, while the broader S&P 500 added 7.93 points to 2,089.17 and the Nasdaq gained 31.28 points to 5,104.92.Off-price retailer Ross Stores (Nasdaq:ROST) led the way higher Friday, gaining almost nine per cent after reporting results that were far better than analysts expected.Meanwhile, Nike (NYSE:NKE) jumped almost five per cent after announcing a dividend increase, a stock buyback and a stock split.Retail stocks took a beating earlier this month after weak reports from Macy’s and Nordstrom raised concerns that the holiday shopping season would be a bust.“That spooked everybody that had some kind of apparel offering,” Ken Perkins, president of the research firm Retail Metrics, told The Associated Press.But those fears are fading as shoppers looking for discounts turn to lower-priced retailers like TJ Maxx and Ross Stores and to “fast fashion” retailers who keep up with the latest trends, Perkins said.In economic news, Statistics Canada said lower gasoline prices continued to weigh against a rise in the cost of food in October as the consumer price index rose 1.0 per cent compared with a year ago, unchanged from September.Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada’s core index, which excludes some of the most volatile components, was up 2.1 per cent from a year ago, also matching the increase in September.Overseas, the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, said the bank  “will not hesitate” to expand its stimulus program at its next meeting if needed to support economic recovery in the eurozone.Draghi’s speech at a banking forum in Frankfurt, Germany, on Friday reinforced earlier statements taken by markets as a green light for the bank to take action at the Dec. 3 meeting of its governing council.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *