North American markets were relatively flat Monday as the traders digested last week’s slew of major economic news and looked to a slower pace this week.
The S&P/TSX composite index was up 47.54 points to 12,485.57 as Statistics Canada reported that Canadian building permits were up for the third consecutive month in March.
The Canadian dollar was down 0.09 of a cent at 99.14 cents US.
Statistics Canada says municipalities issued $6.5-billion worth of building permits last month, up 8.6 per cent from February Most of the gains were from the non-residential sector in Ontario and Alberta, with those permits rising 19 per cent to $2.8-billion. Residential permits increased 1.7 per cent to $3.6-billion after an 8.1 per cent decline in February.
Meanwhile, Wall Street was mixed after closing on a high note Friday following a report that found the U.S. economy was showing surprising signs of improvement on the jobs front.
The Dow Jones industrials was down 13.11 points at 14,960.85 after breaking through 15,000 Friday for the first time. The S&P was up 2.02 points to 1,616.44 after moving above 1,600 at the end of the week.
The Nasdaq rose 11.26 points to 3,389.89.
Commodity prices were mixed as the June crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 35 cents to $95.26 a barrel, with the energy sector registering a gain of 0.17 per cent on the TSX.
June bullion gained $3.60 to $1,467.80 an ounce and the gold sector was up 0.28 per cent.
The metals and mining sector gained 0.14 per cent even as July copper dipped two cents to $3.30 a pound.
Market analyst Colin Cieszynski said it’s not unusual for markets to stay relatively mixed during a quiet week after taking in so much major economic news last week.
“We had such a huge run and we had so much news last week that often times, the markets will sit back, take a breather afterwards and digest the news already out there,” said Cieszynski, with CMC Markets.
On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department said employers added 165,000 jobs in April, while both February and March numbers were also better than first thought. The combination trimmed the U.S. unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 per cent.
The news boosted hopes that the world’s largest economy is recovering despite a number of recent manufacturing and corporate earnings reports that came in mixed.
Cieszynski said the markets have held up well despite not much going on.
“They’re flat and slightly positive (which) actually suggests that there’s really good underlying support,” he added.
No major economic news is scheduled for the week, except for the latest Canadian job numbers which come out Friday. Consensus expectations suggest the economy added about 11,000 jobs in April.
In major corporate news, private equity firm Onex Corp. (TSX:OCX) says it will pay US$950-million in cash to acquire business-to-business trade show operator Nielsen Expositions. The purchase, from an affiliate of Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE:NLSN), is expected to close in the second quarter. Its shares were up 30 cents to $49.90.
Nielsen Expositions produces more than 65 business-to-business trade shows and conference events each year ranging from a variety of topics including general merchandise, sports, hospitality and retail design, jewelry and photography. Last year, it generated revenues of approximately $183-million.
Meanwhile, overseas, European bourses took back some of its gains as the optimism from the U.S. report faded.
Germany’s DAX was 0.1 per cent lower at 8,116.10 after hitting a record high Friday. France’s CAC-40 was down 0.3 per cent at 3,902.95.
In Asia, Malaysia’s KLSE Composite surged 3.4 per cent to 1,752.02 after the country’s governing coalition won national elections, albeit with a weakened majority.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose one per cent to 22,915.09, while Australia’s S&P/ASX advanced 0.5 per cent to 5,156.20. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia also rose, while the Philippines fell and South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.2 per cent to 1,962.25.
Markets in London and Tokyo were closed for public holidays.