May 18, 2016 - 5:00 AM EDT
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Equities Move Into Plus Category

Banks Carry Stocks

Canadian equities turned higher on Wednesday, boosted by banks and life insurance companies as investors awaited the release of minutes from a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting amid rising talk of an interest rate increase.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index greeted noon up 3.7 points to 13,920.6

The Canadian dollar remained 0.06 cents below breakeven to 77.4 cents U.S.

Manulife Financial rose 2% to $18.57, and Sun Life Financial gained 1% to $44.07. The country's main banks were also higher, with smaller gains.

Pipeline companies were among the most influential decliners, with Pembina Pipeline down 0.8% at $36.76 and TransCanada Corp off 0.3% at $52.54.

Among gold issues, Franco Nevada lost 2.4% to $87.77, and Agnico Eagle Mines fell 1.3% to $61.52.

First Quantum Minerals declined 2.2% to $9.02, and Teck Resources slipped 1.3% to $12.92.

On the economic slate, Statistics Canada reported that foreign investment in Canadian securities strengthened for a third straight month to reach $17.2 billion in March, mostly securities issued by Canadian private corporations.

Meanwhile, Canadian investment in foreign securities amounted to $2.3 billion and was led by U.S. corporate instruments.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange eased 2.53 points to 683.64

Seven of the 13 TSX subgroups were higher, led by financials, up 0.7%, industrials, ahead 0.5%, and consumer discretionary, up 0.4%.

The half-dozen laggards were weighed most by metals and mining, down 1.6%, materials, down 1.2%, and gold, off 1%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks traded mostly higher Wednesday, with financials and tech leading, as investors awaited the afternoon release of the Fed minutes.

The Dow Jones Industrials turned positive 24.49 points to 17,554.17. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase contributed the most to gains in the Dow, while Wal-Mart had the greatest negative impact, trading more than 2.5% lower ahead of its earnings due Thursday morning.

The S&P 500 gained 3.42 points to 2,050.63, with financials leading three sectors higher and consumer staples the greatest laggard.

The NASDAQ Composite gained 25.26 points to 4,741, as Apple climbed more than 1%.

In corporate news, Target reported a lower-than-expected 1.2% increase in comparable sales, while net revenue declined to $16.2 billion U.S., mainly due to the sale of pharmacy and clinic business to CVS Health. Target fell more than 9.5% in morning trade.

In other earnings news, Staples beat slightly on the top and bottom line, but North American same-store sales were down 4% a bigger drop than the 3.1% drop analysts had expected. Shares turned lower in midday trade.

Lowe's reported earnings and revenue above expectations, and the same-store sales increase of 7.3% was well above the consensus estimate of a 4.4% rise. Shares rose 3.5% in midday trade.

Hormel posted earnings a touch above expectations, while revenue was essentially in-line. The food manufacturer also raised its full-year earnings forecast. Shares fell 9% in midday trade.

U.S. crude oil futures traded higher after the Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory data showed a 1.3-million-barrel build in crude, while other fuel stockpiles declined.

Prices for the 10-year Treasury dropped sharply, raising yields to 1.82% from Tuesday's 1.76%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices gained 30 cents a barrel to $48.62 U.S.

Gold prices doffed $6.99 to $1,271.96 U.S. an ounce.

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Source: Equities.com News (May 18, 2016 - 5:00 AM EDT)

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