TORONTO - Energy stocks weighed heavy on the Toronto Stock Exchange with U.S. markets closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.
The S&P/TSX composite index ended down 13.36 points at 15,187.40 as commodity prices moved slightly higher, but several major energy companies lost ground.
The Canadian dollar was down 0.08 of a U.S. cent at 81.21 cents.
In commodities, the July contract for benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 10 cents to US$59.82 a barrel in electronic trading, while the TSX energy sector dropped 0.6 per cent.
June gold rose $2.50 to US$1,206.50 an ounce.
On the upside, the financials sector moved ahead 0.04 per cent ahead of the Canadian bank earnings season that begins on Wednesday. Banking executives are expected to give some insight into how the economy is affecting consumer lending.
TD Bank (TSX:TD) was the biggest gainer of the major banks, rising 21 cents to $56.39.
The main TSX index has gained just shy of four per cent since the start of the year, extending the steep climb made over the past five years. Those levels have put the stock market at a point where it will likely hold steady for the time being, said Kash Pashootan, portfolio manager at Ottawa-based First Avenue Advisory.
"It's reasonable to expect it to go sideways here for the short term," he said.
"The reality of the future is we're going to see more volatility than we're used to and less in the way of returns."
Overseas, China announced a 50 per cent cut in import duties on a number of consumer products in a move to spur consumer spending and revitalize its slowing economic growth. The tariff cuts, to take effect June 1, cover clothing, shoes, skin care products, baby food and supplies and kitchen utensils.
"Expanding domestic consumer demand is an important measure for steady growth and structural adjustment," China's Finance Department said.
In corporate news, Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) signed a deal to sell its Cowal mine in Australia to Evolution Mining for US$550 million.
Barrick, which has been looking to sell non-core assets as it streamlines its operations and cuts costs, says it will use the proceeds to pay down debt. Its stock was up one cent at $15.12.
Meanwhile, Air Canada (TSX:AC) began a crackdown on oversized carry-on luggage beginning with flights out of Toronto's Pearson International Airport in a program it plans to expand across the country in two weeks. Passengers whose carry-on luggage exceeds size and weight restrictions are sent back to check-in where standard fees apply. Its stock was up four cents at $12.62.
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