TORONTO -- The Toronto stock market kicked off the second quarter of trading with a move higher, while in New York markets were lower as several major U.S. automakers saw their sales decline.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 36.65 points to 15,584.40, led by the gold sector, which gained 2.33 per cent.

Materials stocks climbed 1.69 per cent while the base metals sector of the TSX inched 0.69 per cent higher.

Meanwhile, health-care companies on the TSX lost 2.12 per cent. Consumer discretionary stocks gave back 0.56 per cent and utilities were down 0.37 per cent.

The oil-sensitive loonie was down 0.49 of a cent to 74.70 cents US, as the May crude contract lost 36 cents to US$50.24 per barrel.

But in spite of the weakness in Monday's oil price, Colin Cieszynski says he's encouraged that crude is holding above the US$50 per barrel mark.

"It seems as though whenever it goes under US$50, we start hearing rumblings from the OPEC talking about extending their supply cuts," said Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets Canada.

"There's a little bit of weakness here but overall it does seem to be relatively well supported."

South of the border, markets were lower as the second quarter of trading got underway. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 13.01 points to 20,650.21, the S&P 500 index shed 3.88 points to 2,358.84 and the Nasdaq composite index gave back 17.06 points to 5,894.68.

"We had this huge rally in the Dow after the election and it's reached exhaustion and there hasn't been any news to really push it higher, so we're seeing it kind of fall back under its own weight," Cieszynski said.

Disappointing data out of the automotive sector, an important driver of the U.S. economy, added to the negative sentiment on the U.S. markets, as several major automakers reported that their sale plunged last month.

Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Toyota all reported sales declines in March as consumers' appetites for passenger cars waned, while GM's sales were higher thanks to stronger SUV sales.

In commodities news, May natural gas contracts were down six cents at US$3.13 per mmBTU, the June gold contract was up US$2.80 at US$1,254.00 an ounce and May copper contracts lost five cents at US$2.60 a pound.

Shares of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (TSX:SNC) were up 0.77 per cent as the engineering giant said it is in talks to acquire WS Atkins PLC, an engineering and project management consultancy based in London, for the equivalent of C$3.5 billion.

SNC-Lavalin finished the day 40 cents higher at $52.58.