Canada's main stock market in Toronto edged lower Friday as crude oil prices fell ahead of a weekend meeting that could yield an output freeze by major producers.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite Index shed 31.09 points, or 0.23 percent, to close at 13,637.20 points. Seven of the TSX index's eight main sub-sectors were lower.
All eyes are on Doha as producers, led by top exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia, will meet on Sunday to discuss freezing output around current levels in an effort to contain a glut exacerbated by production that exceeds demand by about 1.5 million barrels a day.
It would be the first joint action by major OPEC and non-OPEC producers in 15 years, although Iran has refused to participate, saying that it wants to rebuild its output to levels achieved before the imposition of the recently lifted economic sanctions.
Brent crude futures settled down 74 cents at 43.10 U.S. dollars while U.S. crude ended down 1.14 cents at 40.36 US dollars. Both contracts lost more than 3.5 percent earlier in the day. However, on a weekly basis, prices were higher for the second week in a row in the run up to the meeting.
The pullback in oil prices weighed on TSX energy shares with a 2.30 percent loss, as Suncor Energy Inc. went down 2.68 percent to 35.92 Canadian dollars (27.98 U.S. dollars), while Canadian Natural Resources gave away 2.24 percent to 36.68 Canadian dollars.
Bombardier advanced 5.88 percent to 1.62 Canadian dollars with the aircraft manufacturer said to be near an agreement to sell as many as 75 C-Series jetliners to Delta Air Lines Inc., according to sources. The deal would be the largest to date for the struggling program.
Mitel Networks Corp. plunged 9.62 percent, the most since February, after the communications company agreed to buy Polycom Inc. in a 1.96-billion Canadian dollar deal in cash and stock.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International has reportedly brought in investment banks to review its options amid interest from buyout firms and other companies in a number of its businesses. Valeant shares shed 0.94 percent to 41.27 Canadian dollars.
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) raised the price target on Husky Energy to 19.00 Canadian dollars from 16.00 Canadian dollars. Husky shares added 10 cents, or 0.60 percent, to 16.82 Canadian dollars.
On the economic front, Statistics Canada reported manufacturing sales for February slumped 3.3 percent to 51.2 billion Canadian dollars following three months of consecutive gains.
According to figures published by the Canadian Real Estate Association, national home sales posted their third monthly increase and broke all previous monthly records.
National home sales rose by 1.5 percent from February to March. Actual (not seasonally-adjusted) activity was up 12.2 percent compared to March 2015.
The Canadian dollar traded higher at 0.7790 U.S. dollar, compared with Thursday's closing rate of 0.7783 U.S. dollar.