The Toronto stock market lost ground near midday with many key sectors lower as the latest numbers on the U.S. and Canadian economies did little to quell concerns about persistent weakness.
The S&P/TSX composite index moved down 61.72 points to 12,277.13, while the TSX Venture Exchange crept up 1.1 points to 1,323.41.
The Canadian dollar slid 0.30 of a cent to 101.65 cents US.
A report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed that Americans spent more in August even though their incomes barely grew. But the spending increase was driven by higher gasoline prices.
Meanwhile, Statistics Canada reported that the economy grew by 0.2 per cent in July, after a downwardly revised 0.1 per cent increase in June. The July figure was better than the 0.1 per cent expected by analysts.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials backed off 85.78 points to 13,400.19. The Nasdaq composite index slipped 18.78 points to 3,117.82 and the S&P 500 index was off 9.28 points to 1,437.87.
On the TSX, the information technology sector was the biggest gainer, rising 2.6 per cent, after a surprising financial report from BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (TSX:RIM).
Shares of RIM gained 10 per cent to $7.65, off its intraday high of $8.05. The technology company said after markets closed Thursday that its quarterly loss was US$235 million or 45 cents per diluted share. On an adjusted basis, the loss was $142 million or 27 cents per share, which was much better than the 47 cents per share loss expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg.
The company’s stock, once a major influencer of the TSX, has lost much of its clout on the market as its share price eroded.
Energy stocks were also lower, down 0.8 per cent, while November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved up 33 cents to US$92.18 a barrel.
The gold sector rose 0.4 per cent as December gold bullion decreased $3 to US$1,775.50 an ounce, while December copper was up one cent at US$3.76 a pound.
This trading session also marks the end of the quarter, which can lead to some volatile trading as investors buy and sell large amounts of stock.
Investors also remained cautious over Spain, a day after the country’s government announced big spending cuts it hopes will convince potential bailout creditors and investors that it has a rock-solid plan to heal its public finances.
The positive momentum generated by Thursday’s Spanish budget ground to a halt Friday as investors waited for results of stress tests on 14 of the country’s banks, which were expected after European markets closed.
By midday in Europe, shares were down, with Germany’s DAX 0.5 per cent lower at 7,251.41 and the CAC-40 in France off 1.5 per cent at 3,386. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.4 per cent lower at 5,759.
On Thursday, the Spanish government said it planned to cut overall spending by C40 billion ($51 billion) in 2013, a move that won a generally positive response in financial markets. Many investors think the cuts will lay the ground for Spain, the fourth-largest economy in the eurozone, to seek financial help from fellow countries in the bloc and the European Central Bank.
Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.4 per cent to 20,840.38 and South Korea’s Kospi added nearly 0.4 per cent to 1,996.21. But Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.9 per cent to 8,870.16, sinking on a government report that showed industrial production fell a further 1.3 per cent in August.
The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.5 per cent to 2,086.17 and the Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.9 per cent to 853.83.