TORONTO - A slide in crude oil prices weighed on energy companies on both sides of the border Monday, as the Canadian dollar lost ground.
The S&P/TSX composite index fell 65.97 points to 16,042.12, with the oil and gas sector down nearly 2 1/2 per cent as the January crude contract retreated 84 cents to US$58.11 per barrel.
"After rallying to a two and half year high last week, momentum in crude markets kind of stalled out here today, largely ahead of the big OPEC meeting in Vienna later this week," said Candice Bangsund, vice-president and portfolio manager at Fiera Capital.
It was reported last week that the 14 nations of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia have agreed to extend their latest cuts in oil production until the end of 2018. OPEC and a group of other important oil producers will meet in Austria's capital on Thursday to discuss cuts they announced one year ago and implemented at the start of 2017.
"Obviously that bolstered prices last week, but I think investors are now taking a step back and waiting for the actual result on Thursday," said Bangsund.
"If for some reason they don't push something through I think you could see crude prices pulling back."
South of the border, markets were mixed Monday as falling energy shares also pulled U.S. stock indexes mostly lower on Wall Street.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up a meagre 22.79 points to 23,580.78. The S&P 500 index was down one point at 2,601.42 and the Nasdaq composite index gave back 10.64 points to 6,878.52.
A bright spot on Wall Street was American retailers who posted solid gains on reports the holiday shopping season is off to a strong start. U.S. shoppers are expected to spend US$6.6 billion on Cyber Monday, up more than 16 per cent from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, the research arm of software maker Adobe.
"Heading into the all-important holiday shopping season it's a good sign and a sign of strength for the U.S. economy, which is fairly dominated by the consumer," said Bangsund.
In Canadian corporate news, shares of Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) were down $1.11, or 2.34 per cent, to $46.29 amid news that the Calgary-based energy company says it has reached a deal with the State of Michigan on the aging Line 5 pipelines that run along the bottom of a channel between Lakes Huron and Michigan.
It was also a negative day for Hudson's Bay Company (TSX:HBC). Its shares were down 14 cents, or 1.24 per cent, to $11.17 after the national retailer says shareholders representing almost two-thirds of its outstanding common shares have confirmed their support for the company's $632 million investment deal with global equity firm Rhone Capital.
In currency markets, the Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 78.52 cents US, down 0.17 of a U.S. cent.
Elsewhere in commodities, the January natural gas contract was up 10 cents to US$3.02 per mmBTU. The December gold contract climbed US$7.10 to US$1,294.40 an ounce and the December copper contract was down three cents to US$3.13 a pound.
- With a file from The Associated Press.
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