TORONTO - Canada's main stock index closed lower Friday, but off its lows for the day, after markets reassessed U.S. President Donald Trump's latest statements about imposing stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum.
A global sell-off in stocks that began Thursday came back around to North America in morning trading after the president doubled down against growing backlash, saying "trade wars are good."
If a trade war does indeed break out, it could threaten a strengthening global economy, but investors seemed to question how far Trump will end up going throughout afternoon trading.
The S&P/TSX composite index finished down 9.36 points to 15,384.59, led by losses in the base metals and energy sectors.
South of the border, U.S. stocks worked their way back from much steeper losses, finishing Friday mixed.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 70.92 points to 24,538.06. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index was up 13.58 points to 2,691.25 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 77.31 points to 7,257.87.
Trump told industry executives Thursday he plans to impose a tariff of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, sparking fears of escalating retaliation between countries. While China shrugged of the proposed tariffs, the president of the European Union's governing body suggested possible tariffs on blue jeans and motorcycles.
"But unless there's a follow through from trading partners in terms of retaliatory issues I don't think it's going to be that big an issue for the markets or the economy in general," said Noman Ali, a portfolio manager with Manulife Asset Management.
"It's really a limited impact in some small, specific industries."
In currency markets, the Canadian dollar was trading at 77.57 cents US, down 0.24 of a U.S. cent.
On the commodities front, the May copper contract was unchanged to US$3.12 a pound and the April gold contract was up US$18.20 to US$1,323.40 an ounce. Bullion usually rises when investors are feeling more nervous about inflation and the economy.
The April crude contract was up 26 cents to US$61.25 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was unchanged at US$2.70 per mmBTU.
— With a file from The Associated Press