TSX follows commodities prices lower, slumps for second consecutive day

TORONTO -- The Toronto stock market was in its second day of a post-Christmas slump Wednesday as Canada's main index followed lower commodity prices.

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At mid-afternoon, the S&P/TSX index was off 90.60 points at 13,155.15 after having lost 64 points Tuesday when traders returned after the Boxing Day holiday.

On commodity markets, the February contract for benchmark oil was down $1.30 at US$36.57 a barrel and the energy sector was the leading decliner on the TSX, down 2.61 per cent.

Elsewhere in commodities, February natural gas retreated 16 cents to US$2.21 per mmBtu, while February gold fell $8 to US$1,060.00 an ounce.

The Canadian dollar also fell after several sessions of marginal gains, down 0.31 of a cent at 72.03 cents U.S.

New York markets were also lower on weak volume ahead of the New Year's Day holiday on Friday, with energy companies also leading the slide. The Dow Jones was down 45.85 points at 17,675.13, while the broader S&P 500 declined 6.70 points to 2,071.66 and the Nasdaq lost 20.50 points to 5,087.44.

"Volumes are extremely light, both on the equities and fixed-income side, so you have to take any movements that occur on a daily basis right now with a bit of a grain of salt," said Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede Trust.

In corporate news, Bridgestone announced late Tuesday that it is bowing out of the bidding war for Pep Boys (NYSE:PBY), saying it won't make a counter-offer to top a roughly US$1 billion bid for the auto parts and services retailer from activist investor Carl Icahn. The news sent Pep Boys down 53 cents, or 2.82 per cent, to US$18.41.

Elsewhere, stock in Weight Watchers International (NYSE:WTW) posted a hefty advance after announcing an advertising campaign featuring Oprah Winfrey, who owns a 10 per cent stake in the company. The stock added $4.56 to US$29.93.

In Europe, trading volumes were low on the last full day of the year ahead of the New Year's holiday. Many European markets will be open for only a half day Thursday.

Germany's DAX fell 1.1 per cent, while France's CAC 40 lost 0.5 per cent. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.6 per cent.

Markets in Asia were mixed. Japan's Nikkei rose 0.3 per cent, while South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.3 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.5 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.3 per cent.



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