Stocks Continue Tumble by Noon

Aurora, OceanaGold in Focus

Equities in Canada’s largest centre fell on Friday and are set to end the week down about 0.7%, dragged by energy and material stocks, after preliminary data showed a sharp drop in retail sales in December.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index cratered 109.76 points to pause for lunch Friday at 17,806.44

The Canadian dollar subsided 0.35 cents to 78.71 cents U.S.

Aurora Cannabis fell 4.8%, the most on the TSX, after the pot producer raised $125 million in equity. Aurora shares declined 81 cents, or 5.8%, to $13.28.

The second biggest decliner was gold miner OceanaGold, down 4.2%. OceanaGold lost four cents, or 1.7%, to $2.34.

Pharmaceutical firm Aurinia Pharmaceuticals gave up early morning gains and slid 29 cents, or 1.5%, to $18.86, but discount retailer Dollarama hung onto what it acquired, gaining 54, or 1.1%, to $51.34

On the economic beat, Statistics Canada reported retail sales took off at their fastest pace since September, up 1.3% to $55.2 billion in November, the seventh consecutive monthly gain.

The agency says the increase was led by higher sales at food and beverage stores, along with an uptick in e-commerce sales.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange dropped 1.9 points by noon to 937.31.

All but one of the 12 TSX subgroups fell behind midday, with energy staggering 1.8%, financials down 0.9%, and information technology off 0.8%.

The lone holdout was health-care, progressing but 0.04%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks fell on Friday, retreating from record levels, as investors reassessed the outlook for President Joe Biden’s ambitious COVID stimulus plan.

The Dow Jones Industrials decreased 160.57 points to 31,015.44.

The S&P 500 slid 12.18 points to 3,840.89.

The NASDAQ retreated 24.82 points from Thursday’s all-time high to 13,503.50, supported by gains in Microsoft and Facebook.

Despite Friday’s weakness, major averages are on pace to post a winning week. The S&P 500 is up 2.2% for the week so far. The Dow is up 0.6% and the NASDAQ is up 3.8%.

Dow-component IBM fell more than 9% after the company reported fourth-quarter sales below where analysts were expecting. Revenue fell 6% on an annualized basis, the fourth consecutive quarter of declines. Intel shares retreated 7% following a 6% pop on Thursday after it released better-than-expected earnings.

Hopes for a robust earnings season from the country’s largest communications and tech companies have kept the mega-cap stocks trending upward, and the major indexes near records, during the holiday-shortened week.

Microsoft rose another 2% Friday, bringing its weekly gains to 8%. Facebook moved ahead 15.5% and Apple rallied 8.1% this week and they traded in the green again Friday. These big tech companies are scheduled to report earnings next week.

A growing number of Republicans have expressed doubts over the need for another stimulus bill, especially one with a price tag of $1.9 trillion proposed by Biden.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has criticized the size of the latest round of proposed stimulus checks. Dissent from either party carries weight for Biden, who took office with a slim majority in Congress.

Meanwhile, the Senate is expected on Friday to overwhelmingly confirm former Fed Chair Janet Yellen as Biden’s Treasury secretary. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to lead the department.

Prices for the 10-Year Treasury were higher, weighing yields to 1.09% from at Thursday’s 1.10%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices swooned 69 cents to $52.44U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices skidded $13.00 to $1,852.90 U.S. an ounce.