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Toronto, New York indexes end on flat note, loonie squeezes out tiny gain

Last Updated Jul 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm EDT

TORONTO – Stock indexes in Toronto and New York finished the session flat Monday while the Canadian dollar squeezed out a tiny gain.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index pulled back 9.45 points to 15,165.36. Metals and materials stocks were the index’s biggest gainers, while industrials and consumer staples stocks provided the largest drag.

In major corporate news, Calgary-based Dominion Diamond Corp. (TSX:DDC), one of the world’s largest diamond producers, is endorsing a US$1.2-billion friendly cash takeover bid from the Washington Companies. Dominion Diamond’s shares rose 5.56 per cent, or 94 cents, to $17.85.

It was a similarly quiet trading session in New York as the Dow Jones industrial average lost 8.02 points to 21,629.72, the S&P 500 index dipped 0.13 of a point to 2,459.14 and the Nasdaq composite index saw an uptick of 1.96 points to 6,314.43.

Last Friday, both the Dow and S&P reached all-time highs following a soft retail sales report that gave investors more hope that the U.S. Federal Reserve will be cautious about raising interest rates.

“We’ve seen a similar pattern develop over the last several Mondays, and I think it’s an environment where investors are content to see the markets move sideways in the absence of any real, meaningful data,” said Craig Fehr, a Canadian markets strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.

“As we tread through the back end of the summer, we’re typically going to see markets take on a little more of a sluggish pace just because there are fewer traders on the floor and fewer eyeballs looking at the market and more so looking at the sand and ocean.”

In currencies, the Canadian dollar gained 0.02 of a cent to an average price of 78.93 cents US.

Last week, the loonie soared nearly a full cent in the wake of the Bank of Canada’s decision to raise its key interest rate for the first time in nearly seven years.

Fehr said the dollar is trending higher on expectations of robust growth, but he thinks it will likely stay range-bound at the mid-70 cent level on signs of weakening retail sales and softer Canadian housing market.

“I don’t think the loonie is necessarily going to hold over time but I don’t think it’s going to collapse either,” he said. “As I look forward, economic growth in Canada is going to remain fairly sluggish in the back half of the year after a pretty strong start.”

Commodities were mixed, with the August crude contract down 52 cents to US$46.02 per barrel and the August natural gas contract ahead four cents to US$3.02 per mmBTU.

The August gold contract was up $6.20 to US$1,233.70 an ounce and the September copper contract gained three cents at US$2.72 a pound.

Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.