Save for a brief while at the start and a few minutes ahead of the closing bell, the Canadian stock market languished in negative territory on Friday, but managed to post a fresh record closing high.
Expectations of additional fiscal stimulus in the U.S., and the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in several countries raised optimism about economic recovery gathering momentum this year.
Profit taking after successive days of gains, and a sell-off in the materials section due to weak bullion prices, weighed on the market. However, gains in information technology, industrial, utilities and consumer discretionary stocks pulled the market out of negative territory.
The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 14.50 points or 0.08% at 18,042.07, after hitting a new all-time high of 18,058.61. The index gained about 3.5% in the week.
Lundin Gold (LUG.TO), Silvercorp Metals (SVM.TO), Torex Gold Resources (TXG.TO), Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO), Ssr Mining (SSRM.TO), Iamgold (IMG.TO), Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) and B2Gold Corp (BTO.TO) were among the major losers in the materials section.
In the energy section, Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO), Whitecap Resources (WCP.TO), Enerplus (ERF.TO), Arc Resources (ARX.TO), Suncor Energy (SU.TO) and Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) lost 1 to 3%.
Information technology stocks BlackBerry (BB.TO), Descartes Systems (DSG.TO) and Shopify Inc. (SHOP.TO) gained 6.3%, 4.4% and 3.1%, respectively. CGI Group (GIB.A.TO) ended nearly 2% up.
Among industrial stocks, Mullen Group (MTL.TO), Tfi International (TFII.TO), Ballard Power Systems (BLDP.TO), Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO) gained 2 to 5.4%.
Data released by Statistics Canada showed the Canadian economy shed about 63,000 jobs in December 2020, much larger than an expected drop of 27,500 jobs. In November, the economy had added 62,100 jobs. Employment dropped for the first time since April 2020.
While part-time jobs fell by about 99,000, full-time employment went up by less than expected 36,500 in December. The unemployment in December was up slightly at 8.6% compared to 8.5% in November.
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