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North American stock markets close lower; gold falls back after hitting US$1,900

TORONTO — North American stock markets closed the week with a down day on Friday despite gold prices briefly surpassing US$1,900 per ounce for the first time since 2011. In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index closed down 21.59 points at 15,997.
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TORONTO — North American stock markets closed the week with a down day on Friday despite gold prices briefly surpassing US$1,900 per ounce for the first time since 2011.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index closed down 21.59 points at 15,997.06.

For the week, it was off by 124.42 points, ending a run of three consecutive weekly gains.

"We're going through earnings season so there are a lot of results out right now and what we're getting is a mix of numbers," said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.

"We're kind of in the middle of some profit taking, some bargain hunting, some rotation between sectors," he said.

"It's a very different kind of market than what we've been used to the last couple of years. It's not one where everything's going up or everything's going down. It's back into being more of a stock picker's market."

Materials shone brightest among sectors trading in Toronto as the August gold contract closed up US$7.50 at US$1,897.50 an ounce, tantalizingly close to the record US$1,1120 per ounce set in 2011.

Yamana Gold Inc. stock rose 9.29 per cent, or 72 cents, to $8.47 on Friday after the company hiked its dividend and suggested it could increase its production guidance for 2020.

Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. was up 5.62 per cent, or $3.83, to $71.93 and Lundin Gold Inc. rose 4.36 per cent, or 51 cents, to $12.22.

The September crude contract was up 22 cents at US$41.29 per barrel.

Cieszynski said the market is beginning to accept a stabilized price near US$40 after extreme volatility caused by the pandemic lockdowns of the past few months.

Two oilsands producers who reported earnings earlier this week were among the most active. Suncor Energy Inc. fell 62 cents to $23.13 and Cenovus Energy Inc. rose seven cents to $6.73.

The September natural gas contract was up 3.2 cents at nearly US$1.87 per mmBTU.

Utilities were the worst performing sector on the day, with Brookfield Renewable Partners LP off by $2.26 to $71.04 and TransAlta Corp. down 24 cents to $8.44.

The September copper contract was down 4.6 cents at about US$2.89 a pound.

South of the border, the tech sector weighed down all three major U.S. stock averages for the second day in a row as tensions continued to rise between the world's two largest economies.

On Friday, China ordered the United States to close its consulate in the western city of Chengdu, in apparent response to the Trump administration ordering Beijing earlier this week to close its consulate in Houston.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 182.44 points at 26,469.89.

The S&P 500 index was down 20.03 points at 3,215.63, while the Nasdaq composite was down 98.24 points at 10,363.18.

The Canadian dollar traded for 74.51 US compared with 74.67 on Thursday.

"We could continue to see the market consolidate and trend sideways for the next several weeks as we work our way through earnings reports. That will take us to the latter part of August," said Cieszynski.

He said he expects political conventions and other news concerning U.S. presidential election campaigns will then start to have greater sway in the markets.

By Dan Healing in Calgary

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD, TSX:YRI, TSX: WPM, TSX:LUG, TSX:SU, TSX:CVE)

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version provided an incorrect number for the change in the TSX/S&P index.

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