(RTTNews.com) - Canadian stocks ended slightly higher Friday, after closing sharply lower yesterday on concerns over the European financial system with Portugal'sBanco Espirito Santo missing short-term debt payments. Investors refrained from significant moves as the brewing financial crisis in Portugal renewed concerns about the European economy.
Investors also weighed a report showing an unexpected rise in Canadian unemployment last month. A sharp decline in crude oil prices is also contributing to market's weakness. Energy stocks declined, tracking weak crude oil prices, with financial stocks also trending lower.
Gold stocks extended recent gains, with industrial and healthcare stocks also edging higher.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Friday at 15,125.50, up 11.02 points or 0.07 percent. The index scaled an intraday high of 15,138.72 and a low of 15,082.80.
On Thursday, the index closed down 100.71 points or 0.66 percent at 15,114.48, after scaling an intraday high of 15,214.35 and a low of 15,100.15.
Crude oil futures plummeted to end at a more than two-month low on Friday, as concerns over supply disruptions from the Middle East due to conflicts continued to ease with production in Iraq and Libya all set to return to normal.
The Energy Index tumbled 1.42 percent, with U.S. crude oil futures for August delivery, the most actively traded contract, plummeting $2.10 or 2.0 percent to close at $100.83 a barrel Friday on the Nymex.
Among energy stocks, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ.TO) slipped 2.04 percent, Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM.TO) fell 1.02 percent, Suncor Energy Inc.(SU.TO) dropped 1.65 percent, Cenovus Energy Inc. (CVE.TO) shed 0.47 percent, Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) surrendered 1.30 percent, and Imperial Oil Limited (IMO.TO) dropped 0.79 percent.
The Financial Index edged down 0.08 percent with Toronto-Dominion Bank down 0.22 percent, National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) up 0.22 percent, Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) down 0.01 percent, and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) ended flat at $78.34 a share. Among others, Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) edged up 0.04 percent, while Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce (CM.TO) shed 0.16 percent.
The Capped Healthcare Index gained 0.70 percent with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (VRX.TO) up 0.65 percent, Catamaran Corp. (CCT.TO) up 3.00 percent, and Extendicare Inc. (EXE.TO) dropping 1.54 percent.
Gold futures ended at a near four-month high with some profit taking, even as investors cashed in on recent strength. Meanwhile, concerns persisted over developments in Europe with Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo continuing to struggle.
Global Gold Index gained 3.15 percent, with gold futuresThe for August delivery gaining $1.80 or 0.1 percent to close at $1,337.40 an ounce Friday on the Nymex.
Among gold stocks, Yamana Gold Inc. (YRI.TO) jumped 3.54 percent, Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) added 3.08 percent, Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD.TO) gathered 3.86 percent, and Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) surged 4.81 percent.
The Capped Materials Index gained 1.90 percent, with Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) up 0.21 percent.
The Diversified Metals & Mining Index added 0.93 percent, with Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) up 0.80 percent, Teck Resources Limited (TCK.B.TO) up 0.12 percent, and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.TO) also up 0.19 percent.
The Information Technology Index gained 0.55 percent, with BlackBerry Limited (BB.TO) up 1.81 percent, CGI Group Inc. (GIB.A.TO) gained 0.95 percent, Constellation Software Inc. (CSU.TO) fell 0.25 percent, and Avigilon Corp. (AVO.TO) edged up 0.04 percent.
The Capped Industrials Index advanced 0.72 percent, with Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO) up 0.27 percent even as a workers union at its railcar production unit threatened to strike on Monday. Meanwhile, Bombardier Aerospace said Thursday that it is aiming to strengthen commercial aircraft networks in Latin America, Middle East and the Caribbean regions.
Among other industrial stocks, Air Canada (AC.B.TO) gained 0.52 percent, and Canadian National Railway Company (CNR.TO) added 1.19 percent. Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP.TO) gained 1.49 percent, and SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (SNC.TO) moved up 0.70 percent.
The Capped Telecommunications Index moved up 0.33 percent, with Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI.B.TO) edging up 0.14 percent, BCE Inc. (BCE.TO) up 0.85 percent, and Telus Corp. (T.TO) inching up 0.08 percent.
On the economic front, Statistics Canada's report showed Canadian unemployment to have risen to 7.1 percent in June, up from 7.0 percent in the previous month. The report showed employment change to have declined to a seasonally adjusted -9.4 thousand in June, from 25.8 thousand in May.
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