The Toronto stock market was slightly higher Wednesday after three days of losses.
Worries about a slowing global economy and the possibility of a Greek default had encouraged investors to nibble at profits from a rally that started in early October and started to stall last week.
The S&P/TSX composite index gained 23.33 points to 12,322.72. The TSX Venture Exchange climbed 11.86 points to 1,616.73.
The Canadian dollar was slightly higher, up 0.05 of a cent at 99.99 cents US after closing below parity Tuesday for the first time since Feb. 10.
U.S. markets were positive after payroll company ADP reported that the American private sector created 216,000 jobs in February. That is pretty much in line with economists' expectations for the U.S. non-farm payrolls report for the month, which comes out Friday.
The Dow Jones industrials was ahead 75.99 points to 12,835.14.
The Nasdaq composite index gained 23.54 points to 2,933.86 while the S&P 500 index advanced 8.71 points to 1,352.07.
The TSX plunged about 200 points on Tuesday, on top of a triple-digit slide Monday and a loss for last week. Slower growth prospects for China, and data showing the eurozone economy contracted in the fourth quarter of last year, raised worries about the strength of a global economy still trying to recover from the 2008 financial crisis and recession.
And Greece has again weighed on markets over concerns the country won't attract enough investor support for a deal meant to head off a messy default.
“I think the major selling pressure came on the back of the fact that China's growth number wasn't as strong as everybody thought but I don't think it should be viewed negatively — revising growth from eight per cent to 7.5 per cent is not a big deal,” said Sid Mokhtari, market technician at CIBC World Markets.
“I think the catalyst that forced it was almost everyone was looking for some sort of a correction, everyone was assuming that it was extended, overbought and thought it's reasonable to take some profit and one of them was because of the Greek situation.”
Thursday marks the last day Greece's private creditors can sign up for a deal meant to slash C106 billion off Athens' books.
They have been asked to swap their bonds for new ones with a face value that is 53 per cent lower and with longer maturities and lower interest rates. Some creditors, including hedge funds, are thought to be weighing the benefits of holding out for a potentially bigger insurance return.
If the take-up is below 90 per cent, but still above the crucial 66 per cent threshold for the deal to go ahead, the Greek government could force holdouts to accept the swap. That may be considered a credit event — a technical term for a default — meaning bond insurers would have to pay the Greek bondholders.
On the TSX, worries about Greece helped send the financials sector down 0.7 per cent as Royal Bank (TSX:RY) dropped 55 cents to $55.60.
Shares in Laurentian Bank (TSX:LB) were off 71 cents to $44.34 after it said first-quarter profits dropped 16 per cent to $31 million as it booked acquisition costs related to its purchase of MRS Companies.
Mining stocks were lower even as metal and bullion prices also reversed some of Tuesday's losses.
The gold sector was down about 0.2 per cent as the April gold contract in New York rose $9.60 to US$1,681.70 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) shed 39 cents to C$46.50.
The base metals sector was down about 0.4 per cent while copper was two cents higher at $3.76 a pound after demand concerns sent the metal tumbling 12 cents on Tuesday. The sector was largely dragged down by copper miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX:FM). Its shares fell 58 cents to C$20.02 after saying after the market close Tuesday that net quarterly earnings were $76 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with $454.7 million a year ago. Earnings were affected by lower realized copper prices, lower sales volumes and inflationary cost pressures.
Elsewhere in the sector, Lundin Mining (TSX:LUN) gained 18 cents to $4.69.
The energy sector was up 0.46 per cent as the April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 70 cents to US$105.40 a barrel after losing US$2 Wednesday. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) gained 47 cents to C$33.79 while Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) was ahead 14 cents to $13.13.
Elsewhere on the corporate front, shares in Wi-LAN (TSX:WIN) (Nasdaq:WILN) shot up 47 cents to $5.37 on the Toronto exchange as the patent-licensing company delivered stronger quarterly results but also scaled back its expectations for the first quarter. Wi-LAN also announced it was rising its dividend 20 per cent to three cents per share.
Air Canada's (TSX:AC.B) largest union has served notice that it intends to begin a strike at 12:01 a.m. ET on March 12 unless a new contract is signed by then. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers represents about 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents. The workers had rejected a tentative contract settlement signed in February. Air Canada shares slipped two cents to 95 cents.
And Apple is holding an event Wednesday in San Francisco and has hinted that it will reveal a new iPad model. Rumours speak of an updated tablet with a speedier processor, a sharper screen and an option for faster wireless broadband access. Its shares rose $3.86 to US$534.13.
European bourses were positive with London's FTSE 100 index up 0.33 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX ahead 0.25 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 up 0.74 per cent.
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