Crude oil prices fell on Friday ahead of a weekend meeting that could yield an output freeze by major producers, while North American stock markets finished slightly lower but posted weekly gains.
All eyes are on Doha as producers, led by top exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia, meet on Sunday to discuss freezing output around current levels in an effort to contain a glut exacerbated by production that exceeds demand by about 1.5 million barrels a day.
It would be the first joint action by major OPEC and non-OPEC producers in 15 years, although Iran has refused to participate, saying that it wants to rebuild its output to levels achieved before imposition of the recently lifted economic sanctions.
"Unless there's a total surprise, the likelihood is that the Doha meeting on Sunday between OPEC/non-OPEC will produce something very wishy washy and will be nothing more than smoke and mirrors," one trader said. "I therefore want to sell crude today."
In Toronto, the benchmark equity gauge fell 0.23 per cent, or 31.09 points, to 13,637.20, paring a weekly gain to 1.8 per cent. The S&P/TSX remains one of the best-performing developed markets in the world this year with a 4.6-per-cent gain.
Bombardier Inc. jumped 5.9 per cent to an October high, with the aircraft manufacturer said to be near an agreement to sell as many as 75 C Series jetliners to Delta Air Lines Inc., according to a person familiar with the talks. The deal would be the largest to date for the struggling program.
Bombardier Inc. rejected an initial investment proposal from the Canadian government to shore up the struggling planemaker's finances as the two sides remain at odds over corporate governance and other issues, according to people familiar with the talks.
The federal government is seeking a more favourable deal than the one struck by the province of Quebec to support the C Series jet program at the Montreal-based company, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as talks continue.
The resource-dominant S&P/TSX remains tied to commodities prices, as a rebound in producers through the first quarter has fueled a 15-per-cent recovery for the S&P/TSX from a 2013 low on Jan. 20. The Canadian benchmark now trades at 21.7 times earnings, about 14 per cent higher than the 18.9 times earnings valuation of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Mitel Networks Corp. plunged 9.6 per cent, the most since February, after the communications company agreed to buy Polycom Inc. in a $1.96-billion deal in cash and stock. The deal represents an 11-per-cent premium compared with Polycom's close on Thursday.
U.S. stocks slipped on Friday as oil price declines weighed on energy shares and Apple dragged on the market, but major indexes closed up for a seventh week in the last nine.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 29.38 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 17,897.05, the S&P 500 lost 2.09 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,080.69 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.67 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 4,938.22.
For the week, the Dow rose 1.8 per cent, the S&P added 1.6 per cent, the Nasdaq gained 1.8 per cent.
Apple shares dropped 2 per cent, the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. The Nikkei business daily reported that the company will continue its reduced production of iPhones in light of sluggish sales.
Citigroup shares edged down 0.2 per cent after the company reported a sharp drop in quarterly profit, capping a big week of bank earnings.
Despite Friday's declines, the major indexes posted their seventh week of gains out of the past nine.
"The recent trend of the market has been to the upside," said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Ind. "You've got the lack of catalysts today and I think the market is kind of reflecting that," adding that investors may be taking profits after the recent rally.
Wall Street's rough start to 2016, amid concerns over the global economy, was followed by a sharp rebound starting in mid-February. Stocks have steadied in April and the S&P 500 is now positive for 2016.
Investors have turned their attention to earnings season, which will intensify next week, as the next major factor influencing the market. First-quarter profits among S&P 500 companies are expected to have fallen 7.8 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, but the diminished expectations could be setting the stage for positive surprises that support stocks.
The U.S. dollar index fell as traders cashed in after three days of gains and was weighed further by data showing U.S. industrial production fell more than expected in March and consumer sentiment missed expectations.
The dollar index slipped 0.2 per cent after the U.S. currency had gained more than 1 per cent against both the yen and the euro earlier this week.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.4 per cent, paring its weekly advance to 3.3 per cent, the most in two weeks. Auto-related shares fell the most on the Stoxx 600, with Volkswagen AG sliding after data from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association showed its share of the European market contracted to a five-year low.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose, leaving it up 3.7 per cent in the week, the most since the period ended March 4. Brazil's Ibovespa rose 1.6 per cent before Sunday's impeachment vote
Japan's Nikkei closed 6.5 per cent higher for the week.
China's economy grew 6.7 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, meeting expectations and providing additional evidence that a slowdown in the world's second largest economy may be bottoming out.
Brent crude futures settled down 74 cents at $43.10 while U.S. crude ended down $1.14 cents at $40.36. Both contracts lost more than 3.5 per cent earlier in the day. However, on a weekly basis, prices were higher for the second week in a row in the run up to the meeting.
Oil also trimmed some losses after data from Baker Hughes showed U.S. energy firms cut oil rigs for a fourth week in a row to the lowest level since November 2009.
With discussions among producers focusing on freezing output rather than cutting it, most analysts said they had little hope for a deal that reduces the global oversupply.
The crude surplus has pulled down crude prices by as much as 70 per cent since mid-2014.
"A cut in production is very unlikely at this meeting and I would say it will probably not even be a discussion item on the meeting agenda," said Energy Management Institute analyst Dominick Chirichella.
"The conclusion for today is to buckle up your seatbelts - the ride could get wild next week."
Barclays said that while the Doha meeting does not materially change the oil market balances, if recent supply-side fundamental support holds and the market's expectations for a credible statement and commitment are met, it could help prevent prices from falling back to the low $30 range.
Consultancy Petromatrix said it saw the Saudis as a G20 member pushing for a deal to freeze output because both the IMF and the U.S. Federal Reserve are growing increasingly impatient about low oil prices.
With files from Bloomberg News