TSX Wall Street near breakeven as price of oil hovers around 50

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market hovered between small gains and losses as the heavily weighted financials and energy sectors turned lower even as oil prices continue to hover near US$50 a barrel.At midafternoon, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 9.52 points at 13,969.14 after having soared more than 600 points in the week’s first four trading days, but still leaving Canada’s main market on track for its best week of the year.Most of the strength Friday came from the metals and mining and gold sectors, up more than three per cent apiece as base and precious metals prices continued to recover.Meanwhile the oil-sensitive loonie was up 0.39 of a U.S. cent at 77.21 cents US, its highest level in two months, amid general U.S. dollar weakness.On the commodity markets, the December gold contract was up $11.10 at US$1,155.40 an ounce, while December copper shot up seven cents to US$2.41 a pound. The November contract for benchmark oil edged down eight cents to US$49.35 a barrel, while November natural gas added a penny to US$2.51 per thousand cubic feet.In New York, markets were flat but still heading for their best week of the year. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 5.78 points at 17,044.97, while the broader S&P 500 gave back 2.63 points to 2,010.80 and the Nasdaq gained 10.83 points to 4,821.61.European and Asian markets also enjoyed a banner week, with Germany’s DAX up 5.7 per cent, France’s CAC-40 up 5.4 per cent and London’s FTSE up 4.7 per cent this week. In Asia, markets in Japan, China and Hong Kong were all up about four per cent on the week.In corporate news, shares in commodities group Glencore closed up seven per cent in London after the company said it was slashing its zinc production by a third and cutting jobs in response to a sharp fall in the price of the metal.Airline stocks were among the biggest gainers on the S&P 500 after the companies said their flights flew nearly full last month. United Continental stock rose six per cent, American Airlines shares advanced 5.5 per cent and JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines were both up four per cent.In economic news, Statistics Canada reported the economy added 12,000 jobs in September, but that the unemployment rate still edged up a tenth of a percentage point to 7.1 per cent, its highest level since February 2014, as more people entered the labour force.And the Bank of Canada said in its business outlook survey that forward-looking indicators of business activity have improved, supported by a generally positive outlook for the U.S. economy and the low loonie.However, business sentiment remains tepid as persistent weakness in commodity prices continue to work their way through the economy, dampening the outlook for firms tied to the resource sector.

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