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The Wal-Mart Supercentre in Toronto’s Dufferin Mall is seen in this file photo. (Della Rollins For The Globe and Mail)
The Wal-Mart Supercentre in Toronto’s Dufferin Mall is seen in this file photo. (Della Rollins For The Globe and Mail)

At midday: Markets mixed amid negative U.S. consumer sentiment Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was lower as a fresh reading on American consumer confidence deepened concerns about the economy.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 58.31 points to 14,530.58.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.05 of a cent at 91.89 cents US.

New York’s U.S. indexes were mixed as the Dow Jones industrials climbed 4.44 points to 16,451.27 as Starts for April came in at an annualized pace of 1.072-million units, higher than the 980,000 that economists had expected. But almost all that increase came from the volatile apartment sector, a sign that Americans are still struggling financially to buy single-family homes.

The Nasdaq fell 9.24 points to 4,060 while the S&P 500 index climbed 0.64 points to 1,871.49.

Markets headed for a negative week after data showed the economic recovery in Europe is more fragile than thought while retail giant and economic barometer Wal-Mart Stores delivered a disappointing outlook for the second quarter.

“Financial markets are clearly still skittish from the lack of positive catalysts this week,” said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Carl Campus.

The University of Michigan’s latest consumer sentiment index also offered a glum reading. The index registered 81.8 for this month, well below the 85 level that was expected and lower than the 84.1 reading in April.

This has also been a remarkable week in the fixed income area where bond yields have fallen sharply amid equity market nervousness.

The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury bond was at 2.51 per cent Friday morning, after starting the week at 2.66 per cent and as low as 2.47 per cent on Thursday.

And the rally hasn’t been confined to the U.S.

In Canada, intraday yields on 10-year Government of Canada bonds touched 2.22 per cent Thursday after sitting as high as 2.4 per cent earlier in the week. On Friday, the 10-year stood at 2.265 per cent.

In earnings news, auto parts maker Martinrea International Inc. reported quarterly net income of $16.7-million or 20 cents per share, down from $19.9-million or 24 cents per share in the same 2013 period. Revenue for the three months was up 12.4 per cent from $769.1-million in the same prior-year period and its shares gained three cents to $11.05.

And private equity firm Onex Corp. reported a first-quarter consolidated net profit of $99-million, up from a net loss of $271-million in the same quarter last year. Revenues were up three per cent to $6.5-billion from $6.325-billion year-over-year. Onex says it’s increasing its quarterly dividend 33 per cent to five cents, up from 3.75 cents and its shares climbed a dime to $63.45.

On the commodity markets, the TSX base metals sector led decliners, down 1.57 per cent, while July copper was unchanged at $3.14 (U.S.) a pound.

The gold sector faded 0.63 per cent as June bullion edged 20 cents lower to $1,293.40 an ounce.

June crude gained 31 cents to $101.81 a barrel and the energy sector dropped 0.45 per cent.

There was also major merger and acquisition activity Friday morning as restaurant chain Red Lobster is to be sold to investment firm Golden Gate Capital for $2.1-billion.

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