Edmonton Journal



TORONTO • The Toronto stock market closed lower Friday as oil prices weakened and concerns intensifie­d over the Greek debt crisis ahead of a key meeting this weekend.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 89.41 points to 14,808.09 while the loonie rose 0.05 of a U.S. cent to 81.20 cents.

Markets everywhere anticipate­d developmen­ts over the weekend in the negotiatio­ns between Greece and its creditors. An emergency meeting of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers was scheduled for Saturday amid reports of further concession­s by Athens in hopes of getting emergency bailout loans.

Failure to secure a deal will likely mean a default by Greece on a 1.6-billion-euro payment owned to the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund on Tuesday. A default could force Greece to leave the euro, the so-called Grexit, and possibly the European Union as well.

“If Greece really comes off the rails and doesn’t get an agreement, then volatility will creep back in,” said Michael Greenberg, portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton Solutions.

“We’re a bit worried that contagion of sentiment will reach our shores.”

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average began reversing two days of losses that saw the widely watched index fall more than 250 points as traders reacted to Greek debt woes and possible interest rate increases later this year by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The Dow finished ahead 56.32 points at 17,946.68. The tech-heavy Nasdaq continued its three-day slide since hitting an all-time record high close of 5,160.09 on Tuesday, falling 31.68 points to 5,080.51. The S&P 500 dipped 0.82 of a point to 2,101.49.

In commoditie­s, the August crude contract eased off seven cents to US$59.63 a barrel, not far off last Friday’s settlement price.

Gold rose $1.40 to US$1,172.90 an ounce, but that was well below the $1,201.90 an ounce where it started the week.

In economic news, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index rose to 96.1 in June from 90.7 in May, its highest reading since the index hit 98.1 in January and up from 82.5 a year ago.

The latest reading shows that in the first six months of the year U.S. consumer optimism has improved at the fastest pace since 2004.

Next week will be a shortened week for markets on both sides of the border, with the Toronto Stock Exchange closed Wednesday for Canada Day. U.S. markets will not trade on Friday in advance of the July 4th Independen­ce Day holiday, which falls on Saturday this year.

Major economic news next week includes economic growth figures for April from Statistics Canada on Tuesday as well auto sales figures for June from Canadian automakers on Thursday.

In the United States, auto sales figures will be released Wednesday, while on Thursday traders will also look to U.S. employment numbers and jobless claims and a report on factory orders.

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