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Stocks lower in early trading amid amid geopolitical worries centred around Ukraine, mixed data

Canadian Press, The Canadian Press
0 Comments| August 29, 2014

TORONTO _ The Toronto stock market was slightly lower going into the long Labour Day weekend amid fears of a wider Russian invasion into Ukraine and a big letdown in U.S. consumer spending data.

The S&P/TSX composite index dipped 8.52 points to 15,549.65.

The Canadian dollar gained 0.09 of a cent to 92.28 cents US amid data that also showed stronger than expected Canadian economic growth.

Statistics Canada reported gross domestic product ran up at an annual rate of 3.1 per cent in the second quarter, higher than the 2.7 per cent read that economists had expected. First-quarter growth, which was affected by a severe winter, was revised down to a gain of 0.9 per cent compared with an earlier reading of 1.2 per cent.

On a monthly basis, GDP climbed 0.3 per cent in June versus the 0.2 per cent rise that was forecast.

U.S. indexes were little changed as other data showed consumer spending remained lacklustre in July, as auto sales slipped from eight-year highs and retail sales stalled. Spending dropped 0.1 per cent, against the gain of 0.3 per cent that was generally expected.

The Dow Jones industrials gained 8.02 points to 17,087.59, the Nasdaq rose 12.2 points to 4,569.89 and the S&P 500 index was ahead 3.04 points to 1,999.78.

Other data showed a sharp uptick in manufacturing activity in the American Midwest. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index surged to 64.3 in August from 56.5 in July.

Investors also watched the Ukraine conflict for signs of further escalation after the country's president reported that Russian forces had entered the southeastern part of the country, which had largely escaped earlier fighting between Ukraine forces and pro-Russian militias.

NATO said at least 1,000 Russian troops are in Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the accusations of an invasion, saying that Moscow ``has not been presented with any facts'' proving that it had happened.

European Union foreign ministers were meeting on Friday to weigh adopting a tougher stance on the Ukraine crisis amid increasing calls to beef up economic sanctions against Russia.

North American markets appeared set for small gains for this past week with advances led by consumer staples, industrials and telecoms. But the market was held back by the financial sector, down 1.15 per cent this week despite a steady parade of earnings news from the big Canadian banks that largely beat expectations.

But stock prices for the big banks were at or near record or 52-week highs as the results started to come out a week ago and the financial sector is still up 11 per cent year to date.

The financial sector led TSX decliners Friday, down 0.35 per cent.

The gold sector was also down 0.35 per cent while December gold backed off $2.70 to US$1,287.70 an ounce.

December copper gained one cent to US$3.16 a pound and the base metals component climbed 0.25 per cent.

The energy sector rose 0.22 per cent as October crude in New York gained 62 cents to US$95.17 a barrel.


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