TORONTO — The Toronto stock index posted a minor gain Friday, while the Canadian dollar fell amid the latest GDP numbers released by Statistics Canada.The S&P/TSX composite index advanced 16.69 points to 15,634.94, led mainly by financials.The country’s eight-month march of monthly growth in the economy came to an end in July after Statistics Canada reported that gross domestic product was essentially unchanged at zero per cent growth in July compared with June. The development could head off more rate hikes this year and put downward pressure on the Canadian dollar.The loonie was trading at an average price of 80.13 cents US, down 0.19 of a U.S. cent.“The Canadian dollar softened as this GDP report reduced the odds of a third rate hike by the Bank of Canada this year, especially when you combine it with governor Stephen Poloz’s recent speech which gave more of a cautionary tone to the bank’s approach going forward,” said Todd Mattina, a chief economist at Mackenzie Investments.The Bank of Canada raised rates twice over the summer following the economy’s surprisingly powerful start to the year, but Poloz said during a speech Wednesday that he has no prearranged route for further interest-rate hikes.On the corporate front, shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TSX:VRX) were up 79 cents, or 4.62 per cent, to $17.88 at the close of markets amid the company’s announcement that it has completed the sale of its iNova Pharmaceuticals business for $930 million in cash.Quebec-based Valeant says it will use net proceeds of about $920 million from the sale to reduce its debt, as it continues to simplify its portfolio and focus on its core businesses. The company’s shares have plunged since questions about its business model first emerged two years ago, when they traded for more than $300 per share.South of the border, U.S. stocks pushed further into record territory on Wall Street.The S&P 500 index edged up 9.30 points to 2,519.36 and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 42.51 points to 6,495.96 — new highs for both indices. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones industrial average added 23.89 points to 22,405.09.In U.S. economic news, a Commerce Department report released Friday showed consumer spending inched up 0.1 per cent in August, and wages and salaries were unchanged. That could be a hint third-quarter economic growth will be weaker.In commodities, the November crude contract was up 11 cents to US$51.67 per barrel while the November natural gas contract lost a penny to US$3.01 per mmBTU.The December gold contract gave back $3.90 to US$1,284.80 an ounce and the December copper contract retreated three cents to US$2.96 a pound.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is to undertake a crucial visit to Sri Lanka tomorrow.He will meet Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera for talks tomorrow and will also meet President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.