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North American stock markets start week lower with commodity sectors mixed

HAMILTON — Canada's main stock index moved lower to start the trading week, while U.S. markets were relatively flat ahead of this week's release of U.S. retail sales and Canadian inflation numbers.

HAMILTON — Canada's main stock index moved lower to start the trading week, while U.S. markets were relatively flat ahead of this week's release of U.S. retail sales and Canadian inflation numbers.

The market activity followed heightened inflationary pressures, with the most recent U.S. consumer price index coming in at a 30-year high and core inflation at the highest level since 1982.

"Really, what we're trying to I guess digest in the markets is whether or not the U.S. economy can continue to grow and see the same type of demand with these inflationary pressures," said Mona Mahajan, senior investment strategist at Edward Jones. 

Despite falling, markets are close to record highs with some profit-taking Monday as investors await key retail sales and inflation data.

"Both maybe have the potential to be somewhat market-moving," Mahajan said in an interview.

Retail sales will give an idea about consumer demand, with the last two months coming in above expectations.

After heavy U.S. inflation in October, Canadian numbers could also be elevated as higher energy prices translated into higher prices at the pumps and affected prices at grocery stores, Mahajan said.

"So it'll be a good indicator to see just how high that basket has gotten." 

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 85.45 points to 21,683.08 after closing at a record high to end last week.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 12.86 points at 36,087.45. The S&P 500 index was down half a point at 4,682.80, while the Nasdaq composite was down 7.11 points at 15,853.85.

Eight of the 11 major sectors on the TSX were lower, led by health care, industrials, technology and materials.

Health care lost 1.2 per cent as cannabis producers Canopy Growth Corp. and Cronos Group Inc. were each down 5.5 per cent.

Technology fell 0.8 per cent with Hut 8 Mining Corp. off 4.6 per cent, while materials was down 0.4 per cent.

The sector that includes base metals, forestry and fertilizers fell with gold prices dropping despite being a hedge against inflation.

The December gold contract was down US$1.90 at US$1,866.60 an ounce and the December copper contract was down almost five cents at US$4.40 a pound. 

Consumer discretionary led the TSX, climbing 1.1 per cent as shares of auto parts producer Magna International Inc. were up 2.2 per cent while Restaurant Brands International Inc. gained 1.9 per cent after announcing plans to purchase Firehouse Subs for US$1 billion.

Consumer staples was helped by George Weston Ltd., whose shares rose on a deal to sell its ambient bakery business for $370 million.

Energy increased on higher crude oil and natural gas prices that pushed Imperial Oil up 1.1 per cent.

The December crude oil contract was up nine cents at US$80.88 per barrel and the December natural gas contract was up 22.6 cents at nearly US$5.02 per mmBTU. 

Despite Monday's small gain in crude prices, the 66.7 per cent increase so far in 2021 is not likely to repeat as producers ramp up production because of the attractive pricing, Mahajan said.

"Certainly there's chatter out of OPEC-plus type consortiums as well but generally we don't see a repeat of this type of move in energy prices and so in that scenario perhaps we are closer to the high end of the range in energy."

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.89 cents US compared with 79.59 cents US on Friday. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2021. 


Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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