The Toronto stock market was little changed late-morning Wednesday amid weak earnings reports and soft economic data.
The S&P/TSX composite index edged up 3.8 points to 15,278.03.
The Canadian dollar was higher, up 0.02 of a cent to 91.58 cents (U.S.), a day after Statistics Canada announced there was a data error in the July employment report released last Friday. A revised report will be issued this Friday.
New York indexes gained ground as seasonally adjusted retail sales in the U.S. were unchanged in July compared with the prior month.
The Dow Jones industrials climbed 98.16 points to 16,658.7, the Nasdaq rose 39.12 points to 4,428.37 and the S&P 500 index was 13.39 points higher to 1,947.14.
China’s industrial production rose nine per cent in July from a year earlier, edging down from a 9.2 per cent increase in June. Retail sales and fixed asset investment also declined. The poor showings indicated to investors that the Chinese government will step up with a rate cut or other stimulus to keep gross domestic product growth from slowing.
Geopolitical worries have kept markets focused recently and on Wednesday, traders looked to what might happen when a convoy of more than 260 Russian trucks, reportedly packed with supplies, arrives at the Ukraine border. Kyiv said the goods would only be allowed to cross if they were inspected by the International Red Cross. Ukraine is fearful that Russia could use the move as a cover for sending troops into separatist-held territory.
But the strong gains in New York reflected optimism that a peaceful solution will be found.
“We’re seeing overall the geopolitical tensions have not been priced into the market yet,” observed Kash Pashootan, portfolio manager at First Avenue Advisory in Ottawa, a Raymond James company.
“The risk here is that the market isn’t leaving much of a buffer for any sort of bad news or that surprise factor.”
Turmoil in Iraq has also captured market attention. Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the president’s tasking of another politician with forming a new government amounts to a “constitutional violation” and would have worse consequences than the militant takeover of much of the country’s north.
The consumer staples sector led TSX decliners, down 0.36 per cent as Quebec-based grocery chain Metro Inc. reported third-quarter net earnings of $144.5-million (Canadian), or $1.63 in diluted earnings per share, a penny below forecasts. Sales were $3.62-billion, up 1.4 per cent year-over-year and Metro shares declined $2.48 to $68.82.
The industrials sector was weak, down 0.34 per cent with CAE shares down 29 cents to $13.55 after the flight simulator maker reported quarterly earnings of $41.6-million or 16 cents a share, compared with a net profit of $45.6-million, or 18 cents per share, a year ago. Revenues were up at $526.2-million compared with $520.1-million year-over-year. CAE also upped its quarterly dividend by a penny to seven cents a share.
The sub par Chinese data pushed September copper down four cents to $3.11 (U.S.) a pound and the base metals component was flat.
The energy sector slipped 0.15 per cent as September crude in New York dropped 52 cents to $96.85 a barrel as U.S. inventories unexpectedly rose last week.
Gold stocks led TSX gainers, up 0.4 per cent as December bullion improved by $4.40 to $1,315 an ounce.