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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, June 2, 2014. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, June 2, 2014. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

At the open: Markets retreat from near-record territory Add to ...

North American stock markets were lower Wednesday, as the indexes continued to retreat from the near-record levels hit in the last few sessions.

The S&P/TSX composite index pulled back 37.44 points to 14,866.94. The Canadian dollar gained 0.26 of a cent to 91.97 cents (U.S.).

Some had predicted that the Toronto market would soon hit its record-close of 15,073, set on June 18, 2008, just before the recession brought stock values down. But that may not be the case as the TSX searches for some direction with little economic data or earnings news in the near-future.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrials dropped 62.51 points to 16,883.41, the Nasdaq fell 12.63 points to 4,325.37, while the S&P 500 dipped 5.67 points to 1,945.12.

The World Bank has said it plans to cut its 2014 growth forecast to 2.8 per cent from 3.2 per cent, citing a bitter American winter and the political crisis in Ukraine. However, recent data such as solid U.S. hiring and stronger Chinese exports in May suggest prospects for growth in the second half of the year aren’t all pessimistic.

On the commodity markets, the July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchanged gained two cents to $104.37 (U.S.) a barrel.

August bullion climbed $2.60 to $1,262.70 an ounce and July copper dipped penny to $3.05 a pound.

On the corporate front, the founder of Lululemon yoga wear wants a shakeup among board members at the company he founded. Chip Wilson voted against the re-election of two board members, saying a change is needed to increase shareholder value. Lululemon Athletics Inc. holds its annual shareholder meeting in Vancouver on Wednesday. The company reports its latest earnings results on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Royal Bank says most of Canada will experience stronger economic growth this year and next, but only Alberta will see the kind of gains that will make a real impact on job creation. The latest quarterly report from Canada’s largest bank predicts the overall economy will expand by 2.4 per cent this year and 2.7 per cent in 2015, moderately stronger growth rates than the Bank of Canada expects.

The RBC economists say they believe the U.S. economy is kicking into gear and that — combined with the lower value of the loonie — will result in more demand for Canadian exports.

The report also said Alberta will lead the pack with a 3.7 per cent growth rate in 2014, slowing only moderately to 3.5 per cent in 2015.

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