Canadian Stocks Mostly Lower After Early Volatility

After fluctuating early in the session, Canadian stocks are mostly lower in late morning trading on Friday, extending the pullback seen in the previous session.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index briefly turned positive in early trading but is currently down 86.74 points or 0.4 percent at 21,206.22.

Materials stocks are seeing considerable weakness on the day, resulting in a 1.5 percent drop by the S&P/TSX Capped Materials Index.

Notable weakness is also visible among interest rate-sensitive real estate stocks, with the S&P/TSX Capped Real Estate Index down by 1.4 percent.

Healthcare, gold and consumer discretionary stocks have also moved to the downside on the day, while energy stocks are moving higher along with the price of crude oil.

The weakness on the day comes following the release of a slew of U.S. economic data, including a Commerce Department report unexpectedly showing a steep drop in U.S. retail sales in the month of December.

The Commerce Department said retail sales tumbled by 1.9 percent in December after edging up by a revised 0.2 percent in November.

The sharp pullback surprised economists, who had expected retail sales to come in unchanged compared to the 0.3 percent growth originally reported for the previous month.

Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said the unexpected slump in retail sales appears to mainly reflect the ongoing impact of higher prices and supply shortages.

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