The Toronto stock market was slightly lower Wednesday morning amid soft economic data from Asia, while traders kept an eye on the Russian-Ukraine standoff.
The S&P/TSX composite index lost 12.79 points to 15,261.44.
The Canadian dollar was slightly higher, up 0.04 of a cent to 91.6 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 also 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 49.87 points to 16,610.41, the Nasdaq rose 20.32 points to 4,409.57 and the S&P 500 index was 7.99 points higher to 1,941.74.
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.
Government figures showed Japan’s economy, the world’s third largest, shrank at an annualized pace of 6.8 per cent in the second quarter after spending got slammed by a sales tax hike that kicked in from April. The contraction was expected and economists think spending will pick up again in coming months.
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. Kiev 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.
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.
In earnings news, 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 83 cents to $70.47.
Private equity firm Onex Corp. posted consolidated net earnings of $39-million compared to a net loss of $718-million in the second quarter of 2013. Results include earnings from discontinued operations of $447-million compared to a loss of $93-million in 2013. Revenues were largely unchanged compared to the same period last year at $5.2-billion and its shares slipped 11 cents to $62.73.
In the U.S., quarter profit at farming equipment maker Deere fell 15 per cent to $850.7-million (U.S.), or $2.33 per share, which beat expectations of $2.20 per share. Total sales and revenues, which includes financial services and other revenues, declined to $9.5-billion from $10.01-billion. Wall Street predicted revenue of $8.71-billion. Deere added that weak sales in the U.S., Canada and abroad will cut into earnings for the year and its shares shed 27 cents to $86.21.
Gold stocks led TSX gainers, up 0.7 per cent as December bullion improved by $3.10 to $1,313.70 an ounce.
The energy sector rose 0.3 per cent as September crude in New York climbed five cents to $97.42 a barrel.
The sub par Chinese data pushed September copper down two cents to $3.13 a pound and the base metals component eased 0.2 per cent.