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S&P/TSX composite up slightly at the close, U.S. markets mixed

A sign board in Toronto displays the TSX close on Monday, March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn. FNG

Canada’s main stock index was up at the close Friday with mixed results across sectors, while U.S. markets were also mixed with an early close.

With the New York Stock Exchange closing early mid-afternoon Friday, it’s a slow day for markets on both sides of the border, said John Zechner, chairman and lead equity manager at J Zechner Associates.

While markets are in a quiet period around Thanksgiving, Zechner said this is historically a strong time of year.

“Seasonally, you’re in the strongest period of the year. So that’s been a tailwind for the markets lately,” he said.

Read more: S&P/TSX composite posts small gain Thursday as U.S. markets close for Thanksgiving

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 39.70 points at 20,383.77, down from mid-morning highs above 100 points.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 152.97 points at 34,347.03. The S&P 500 index was down 1.14 points at 4,026.12, while the Nasdaq composite was down 58.96 points at 11,226.36.

There’s a lot riding on Black Friday for many retailers, said Zechner — earnings season has been mixed for the major sellers with discount retailers doing better than higher-end stores.

“It’s been a little bit eye-opening,” he said. “Obviously what’s happening in this environment is people are shifting down a little bit … they’re going to the discount retailers, they’re not going high-end.”

The reality is that economic growth is slowing as interest rates rise, said Zechner, even if economic data is a little bit behind on showing that.

“People are sticking a little bit more to necessities and you see that in the stock market too.”

Zechner said he is anticipating bank earnings in Canada next week to give a better sense of how the consumer has been faring.

The Canadian dollar traded for 74.76 cents UScompared with 74.97 cents US on Thursday.

Oil was down with increased attention on COVID-19 cases in China, said Zechner, leading to concerns about global oil demand. But slightly slower volumes on the TSX meant that Canadian markets weren’t down the way they might be normally with a dip in oil prices, he said.

“With all (that’s) going on in the energy market, there’s so many balls up in the air, but one of the biggest is obviously the demand from China,” he said.

The January crude contract was down US$1.66 at US$76.28 per barreland the January natural gas contract was down 38 cents at US$7.33 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up US$8.40 at US$1,754.00 an ounce and the December copper contract was up just less than a penny at US$3.63 a pound.

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