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A worker collects crude oil sample at an oil well operated by Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA in Morichal July 28, 2011. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/REUTERS)
A worker collects crude oil sample at an oil well operated by Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA in Morichal July 28, 2011. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/REUTERS)

At the open: Commodity prices retreat Add to ...

Toronto stock market was negative shortly after the Thursday opening, as commodity prices pulled back amid some disappointing figures on the global economy.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 55.86 points to 12,380.30 while the TSX Venture Exchange slid 2.03 points to 1,341.49.

The Canadian dollar fell 0.68 of a cent to 101.94 cents (U.S.).

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The price of crude extended its pullback with the October contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange down 19 cents to US$91.79 a barrel.

Copper futures slid 6.5 cents to $3.75 (U.S.) a pound while gold bullion fell $5.70 to $1,766 (U.S.) an ounce.

Among the sobering news for investors was a survey in Europe pointing to a deepening recession in Europe, figures from Japan that showed the country’s powerhouse export sector was continuing to suffer and a private survey of manufacturers in China that showed activity fell again in September, though at a slightly slower pace than August.

In the U.S., the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell only slightly last week, suggesting that the hiring level remains weak. The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that applications declined by 3,000 from the previous week, to a seasonally adjusted 382,000.

The Dow Jones industrials declined 37.07 points to 13,540.89, the Nasdaq composite index fell 16.88 points to 3,165.74 and the S&P 500 index backed off 7.39 points to 1,453.66.

In corporate developments, the outcome of a shareholder vote on a proposed Chinese takeover of Nexen Inc. is expected on Thursday. It is widely expected that investors will approve the $15.1-billion offer from China National Offshore Oil Company. Nexen shares were up 11 cents to $24.78.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.6 per cent at 5,852 while Germany’s DAX fell 0.5 per cent to 7,351. The CAC-40 in France was 0.8 per cent lower at 3,503.

Earlier, the losses in Asia were more acute than in Europe, largely because they enjoyed a stronger advance Wednesday in the immediate aftermath of the Bank of Japan’s easing.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 1.6 per cent to close at 9,086.98 while South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.9 per cent to 1,990.33. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.2 per cent to 20,590.92. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 2.1 per cent to 2,024.84, the lowest closing in more than three years. The Shenzhen Composite Index lost almost 3 per cent to 840.21.

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