North American stock markets end another flat week ahead of U.S. election

Markets end week flat

North American stock markets ended a second flat week of trading Friday as investors held back ahead of the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 24.72 points to 16,304.08. That marked the ninth time in 10 trading sessions with movement of less than 100 points.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 28.09 points at 28,335.57. The S&P 500 index was up 11.90 points at 3,465.39, while the Nasdaq composite was up 42.28 points at 11,548.28.

"People are sitting on their hands and nobody really wants to commit to anything ahead of the U.S. election," said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.

He said the big money is waiting to see what happens because they don't want a repeat of 2016 — when they had to reverse their bets early the morning after Donald Trump surprisingly beat Hillary Clinton.

October has so far been a typically weak month ahead of a presidential election, Cieszynski said.

"It's not unusual based on past experience and historical results for (the) October ahead of a U.S. election to be choppy," he said in an interview.

After protracted negotiations that have failed to achieve a deal, investors aren't expecting a stimulus package until after the election, Cieszynski added.

The Canadian dollar traded for 76.10 cents US compared with 76.09 cents US on Thursday.

Financials led the TSX with the Bank of Montreal, Manulife Financial and Bank of Nova Scotia getting boosts as the economy continues to recover, and after U.S. banks posted "spectacular results."

Cieszynski noted that U.S. banks dialed back their multibillion-dollar provisions for load losses.

"So people could be anticipating that the Canadian banks might be able to start doing the same if things continue to improve, and most importantly, if we don't go back into full lockdown, either," he said.

Energy edged higher despite lower crude oil prices with Suncor Energy Inc. and Vermilion Energy Inc. up 2.6 and 2.4 per cent respectively.

The December crude oil contract was down 79 cents at US$39.85 per barrel and the December natural gas contract was down 7.7 cents at US$3.19 per mmBTU.

Materials lost ground despite slightly higher gold prices with shares of Centerra Gold Inc. losing 3.3 per cent.

The December gold contract was up 60 cents at US$1,905.20 an ounce and the December copper contract was down 2.4 cents at US$3.13 a pound.

Telecommunications slipped even though shares of Corus Entertainment Inc. increased 9.8 per cent.

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