The Toronto stock market opened lower amid data from China that pointed to a sluggish manufacturing sector in the world’s second-largest economy.
The S&P/TSX composite index fell 3.46 points to 13,391.94. The Canadian dollar fell to its lowest level in more than two years as it lost 0.16 of a cent to 94 cents (U.S.).
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials pulled back 7.71 points to 16,07.70. But the Nasdaq climbed 5.39 points to 4,4065.28, and the S&P 500 index was ahead 1.95 points to 1,807.76.
Overnight, HSBC reported its purchasing managers’ index for China slipped to 50.8 from 50.9 in October. Typically, numbers above 50 indicate an expansion.
Commodities were mixed as the January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed 71 cents to $93.43 a barrel. February bullion dropped $15.30 to $1,235.10 a barrel and December copper fell a penny to $3.20 a pound.
In corporate news, Talisman Energy Inc. says two representatives of activist investor Carl Icahn will join its board.
One of Icahn’s representatives will sit on the board committee searching for a successor to Hal Kvisle, who plans to step down as Talisman’s president and chief executive next year. Icahn revealed through regulatory documents in October that he had acquired about six per cent of Talisman’s stock, and has now increased his holdings to about seven per cent.
Last month, Talisman announced it would sell 75 per cent of its assets in northeastern B.C.’s Montney formation to Progress Energy Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of Malaysia’s Petronas, for $1.5-billion. Shares rose nearly four per cent or 43 cents to $12.86 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
It’s going to be a heavy earnings week as the country’s major banks report fourth-quarter and full-year results. The Bank of Canada will also announce Wednesday whether its trend-setting rate remains at one per cent, where it’s been since late 2010.
In fact, many analysts don’t think the central bank will start raising rates until 2015 and some even think it could be persuaded to cut the overnight lending rate if inflation gets too low or the economy stalls.
Speculation about a cut gained momentum after the bank’s last announcement Oct. 23 when it dropped its warning about the potential for higher interest rates.
The bank will also release its monetary policy report the same day. In its October statement, the Bank of Canada estimated this year’s growth would average 1.6 per cent, two-tenths of a point lower than the previous forecast. It also lowered projections for 2014 by four-tenths to 2.3 per cent and for 2015 by one notch to 2.6 per cent.