The S&P/TSX composite index slipped 2.74 points to 15,531.58.
Hudson's Bay Co. (TSX:HBC) provided some support as Canada's oldest retailer cut its second-quarter loss to $36 million or 23 cents per diluted share from continuing operations. That compared with a loss of $66 million or 55 cents per diluted share a year ago. Retail sales were $1.76 billion, an increase of $821 million or 86.6 per cent from $948 million for the previous year, primarily due to the inclusion of U.S. luxury retailer Saks Inc. HBC shares erased early declines and gained 20 cents to $17.87.
The Canadian dollar was at a fresh five-month low, down 0.38 of a cent to 90.14 cents US as the greenback continued to appreciate against the loonie amid economic growth worries and the timing of the next U.S. rate increase.
The Dow Jones industrials dropped 61.49 points to 16,987.51 amid data showing that August retail sales rose 0.6 per cent from July, led by a strong showing in the auto sector.
The Nasdaq shed 24.21 points to 4,567.6 and the S&P 500 index slipped 11.91 points to 1,985.54.
Also, the University of Michigan's widely-watched consumer index strengthened in September, rising to 84.6 from 82.5 in August.
Anticipation is building that the Federal Reserve is closer to winding down its economic stimulus and raising interest rates. Markets generally expect the central bank to move on interest rates sometime around the middle of next year, but analysts will be scanning the Fed announcement for indications that it could move even earlier in 2015.
Also, there has been heightened concern about the Scottish referendum slated for Sept. 18, particularly after polls released showed the results too close to call.
Traders also considered the effects of the European Union and the U.S. levying another round of sanctions on Russia for its involvement in Ukraine.
The European Union announced sanctions against Russia that will toughen financial penalties on the country’s banks, arms manufacturers and its biggest oil company, Rosneft. The United States also announced that its sanctions would be extended. Analysts point out that there will be a price for imposing sanctions, which would weigh on the European economy that's still struggling to avoid slipping back into recession.
"The new sanctions . . . are likely to see a retaliation, with media reports suggesting they could take the form of a Russian ban on European car imports," said Mark Chandler, head of Canadian FIC strategy at RBC Dominion Securities.
"As it relates to the growth narrative in Europe and, specifically for Germany, such a development may begin to hurt broader economic repair," Chandler said.
The base metals sector was the leading advancer, up almost one per cent while December copper was ahead a penny at US$3.11 a pound. But the sector has fallen 4.5 per cent over the last month because of global growth concerns.
Financials were also supportive, up 0.4 per cent.
The gold sector led decliners, down about 0.9 per cent while December bullion faded $7.50 to US$1,231.50 an ounce.
The TSX energy sector was down 0.44 per cent as oil prices declined 56 cents to US$92.27 a barrel after hitting a 16-month low in Thursday's session. Prices have been buffeted by a combination of lower demand and higher U.S. production.
Worries about global economic weakness, uncertainty about the Fed and the U.K. referendum made for tepid stock markets this week, where the TSX shed 38 points or 0.24 per cent while the Dow industrials fell 150 points or 0.87 per cent.