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Equities

Canada’s main stock index saw modest declines at Friday’s opening bell with tech and industrial stocks under pressure. On Wall Street, key indexes saw a muted start as traders return for an abbreviated session after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

At 9:30 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 18.5 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 20,098.16.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 26.87 points, or 0.08 per cent, at the open to 35,299.90. The S&P 500 opened lower by 0.78 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 4,555.84, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 27.82 points, or 0.20 per cent, to 14,238.04 at the opening bell.

In Canada, investors got September retail sales figures, along with an early estimate of sales for October.

Statistics Canada says retail sales for September rose 0.6 per cent to $66.5-billion. Sales rose in four of nine subsectors, led by vehicles and auto parts. Economists had been expecting a flat reading in September. Core retail sales, which exclude gasoline stations and fuel vendors and motor vehicle and parts dealers, were down 0.3 per cent in September.

The government agency’s early estimates suggest an increase of 0.8 per cent in overall retail sales in October.

“Canadian retail sales were firmer than expected in September, though most of the strength was concentrated in autos and gasoline,” BMO economist Shelly Kaushik said.

“Even so, volumes managed to eke out a small positive for the month. Still, elevated interest rates and mortgage resets still coming, suggest consumers will remain cautious.”

The new figures come as retailers mark Black Friday, with economic pressures expected to temper consumer enthusiasm.

“U.S. markets return from their Thanksgiving break today, with retailers hoping that the spirit of giving translates into a strong Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending spree,” Joshua Mahony, chief market analyst with Scope Markets, said.

“Earnings from the likes of Walmart and Best Buy have noted a weakening demand environment, signalling the potential for a disappointing fourth quarter on the high-street. Nonetheless, with spending habits having remained strong throughout this year, there is a good chance that we see consumers take advantage of sales where possible in a bid to maintain their standard of living.”

Overseas, the pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.03 per cent by afternoon. Britain’s FTSE 100 slid 0.39 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.02 per cent and 0.09 per cent, respectively.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei added 0.52 per cent with traders returning after a holiday on Thursday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.96 per cent.

Commodities

Crude prices were mixed in early trading and looked set for a for their first weekly gain in five weeks as traders continue to focus on next week’s OPEC+ meeting.

The day range on Brent was US$81.26 to US$81.81 in the early premarket period. The range on West Texas Intermediate was US$75.30 to US$76.81. Brent was up modestly in early morning trading. WTI was down from Wednesday. There was no settlement for WTI on Thursday due to the U.S. holiday. Both were positive for the week as of early Friday morning.

Traders continue to await the Nov. 30 OPEC+ meeting. OPEC+ surprised markets by postponing the meeting, which was originally scheduled for this weekend, sparking speculation of discord within the group.

“Investors are currently evaluating the possibility of a deal,” Stephen Innes, managing partner with SPI Asset Management, said.

“During the June meeting, the United Arab Emirates won approval to increase production by 200,000 barrels per day, setting a new target of 3.2 million b/d for 2024. In light of the recent surge in U.S. and non-OPEC production, this is likely ruffling a few feathers as many of the smaller OPEC members likely want to increase quota also.”

In other commodities, spot gold was up 0.1 per cent to US$1,994.09 per ounce by early Friday morning, and has risen 0.7 per cent so far this week. U.S. gold futures were little changed at US$1,994.80.

Currencies

The Canadian dollar edged higher while its U.S. counterpart lost ground against a group of world currencies amid expectations that U.S. interest rates have peaked.

The day range on the loonie was 72.92 US cents to 73.10 US cents in the early premarket period. The Canadian dollar was up 0.24 per cent against the greenback for the week ahead of Friday’s opening bell. For the month, the loonie has risen 1.35 per cent.

On world markets, the dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency with six peers, slid 0.077 per cent to 103.69, not far from the two-and-a-half month low seen earlier in the week.

The index is down about 2.8 per cent for the month so far, putting it on track for its worst monthly performance in a year, according to figures from Reuters.

The euro rose 0.05 per cent to US$1.0911. Britain’s pound was little changed at US$1.2541.

In bonds, the yield on the U.S. 10-year note was slightly higher at 4.47 per cent ahead of the North American opening bell.

More company news

Panama’s top court is expected to start deliberations on Friday to rule on several constitutional challenges to First Quantum Minerals’ contract for the Cobre Panama mine, an outcome keenly watched by the global copper market and investors. First Quantum has faced massive protests since the Panama government signed a new contract for the Cobre Panama mine on Oct. 20, amid allegations of corruption and lack of transparency in the negotiations. The company has denied any wrongdoing. Cobre Panama is one of the world’s biggest and newest copper mines, producing about 1% of global copper supply. -Reuters

Nvidia has told customers in China it is delaying the launch of a new artificial intelligence chip it designed to comply with U.S. export rules until the first quarter of next year, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The delayed chip is the H20, the most powerful of three China-focused chips Nvidia has developed to comply with fresh U.S. export restrictions, the sources said, and could complicate its efforts to preserve market share in China against local rivals like Huawei. The California-based AI chip giant had been expected to launch the new products as early as Nov. 16, chip industry newsletter SemiAnalysis reported this month. -Reuters

Economic news

Canadian retail sales for September (8:30 a.m. ET)

S&P flash U.S. services PMI for November (9:45 a.m. ET)

S&P flash U.S. manufacturing PMI for November (9:45 a.m. ET)

With Reuters and The Canadian Press

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