Toronto stocks fell slightly but U.S. stocks rose Tuesday as gains from tech giants Apple Inc. to Netflix Inc. helped offset concerns that global growth is slowing.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed off 4.06 points at 14,308.44 as energy stocks weighed on the Toronto stock market.
The Canadian dollar fell 1.1 cents to 82.6 cents US — further plumbing depths not seen since April, 2009, just a day before the Bank of Canada makes its next interest rate announcement. Investors also digested data showing manufacturing sales fell 1.4 per cent in November.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average added 3.66 points to 17,515.23. The S&P 500 index gained 3.13 points 2,022.55 and the Nasdaq gained 20.46 points to 4,654.85. U.S. exchanges were closed yesterday for Martin Luther King Day.
"Volatility has been so pronounced day-to-day, hour-to– hour," Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co., which oversees $2-billion, said in a phone interview. "The fact that the market is marginally positive is encouraging given all the elements that are out there."
The International Monetary Fund made the steepest cut to its global-growth outlook in three years, with diminished expectations almost everywhere except the U.S. more than offsetting the boost to expansion from lower oil prices.
The world economy will grow 3.5 per cent in 2015, down from the 3.8 per cent pace projected in October, the IMF said in its quarterly global outlook released late Monday. It also cut its estimate for growth next year to 3.7 per cent, compared with 4 per cent in October.
"Although the theme is that the U.S. is the best market out there, from a global perspective, you can't see a slowdown in every country and expect the U.S. to stay above water," Joe Bell, a Cincinnati-based senior equity analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research Inc., said in a phone interview.
The global weakness, along with prolonged below-target inflation, is challenging policy makers across Europe and Asia to come up with fresh ways to stimulate demand more than six years after the global financial crisis.
The ECB sets monetary policy this week as speculation grows that it will expand asset purchases. President Mario Draghi will probably announce a 550 billion-euro program of quantitative easing, economists said in a Bloomberg survey.
"The market is a little oversold here after a pretty wild January so far," Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Milwaukee-based RW Baird & Co., which oversees $110-billion, said in a phone interview. "If the ECB comes through with a strong quantitative easing strategy, that may be able to pull Europe away from the edge in terms of recession and deflation, which would ease concerns that the U.S. would succumb to slower growth as well."
China's economic growth beat economists' estimates last quarter, helping the full-year expansion remain close to the government's target. Gross domestic product rose 7.3 per cent in the three months ended December from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said in Beijing, beating the median estimate of 7.2 per cent in a Bloomberg survey of analysts. The economy expanded 7.4 per cent in 2014, the slowest pace since 1990.
"We're actually seeing these numbers as fairly encouraging (as) we saw signs of stabilization in Chinese growth," said Jean-Francois Dion, portfolio manager at RBC Dominion Securities.
"I think we're seeing increasing likelihood of some kind of stimulus coming out of China over the next few months or so, which would be welcome."
In New York, Yahoo! Inc., Micron Technology Inc. and Apple jumped more than 2.3 per cent to lead technology shares. Netflix rose 3.4 per cent during the regular session and then surged 13 per cent in late trading after reporting fourth-quarter subscriber growth that exceeded its forecasts, benefiting from faster international growth and more gains in the U.S.
Delta Air Lines Inc. climbed 7.3 per cent after earnings beat projections. Johnson & Johnson tumbled 2.6 per cent after forecasting lower earnings in 2015 as competition cuts into revenue for some of its best-selling drugs. A gauge of homebuilders retreated 3 per cent, after plunging almost 7 per cent last week.
Morgan Stanley reported fourth-quarter earnings excluding items came in at 40 cents a share, seven cents less than analysts forecast and its shares slipped 0.4 per cent to US$34.75.
In Toronto, the TSX energy sector was the lead decliner, down 2.4 per cent as March crude fell $2.66 to US$46.47 a barrel. Other decliners included consumer staples and financials.
The base metals sector gained 2.15 per cent while March copper dropped two cents to US$2.59 a pound.
However, gold prices continued to climb with the February contract ahead $17.30 to US$1,294.20 an ounce and the gold sector ran ahead 4.2 per cent.
Later this week, investors will weigh U.S. economic reports including data on housing and manufacturing to gauge the health of the world's largest economy.
Bank of America Corp. strategists lowered their estimate for S&P 500 earnings for a second time. The forecast was cut "in order to reflect lower oil and the stronger dollar," according to the BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report.
Earnings per share for companies in the gauge will expand 1 per cent in 2015 to $119.50, down from $124 previously and an earlier prediction of $126. The mean estimate among 18 strategists surveyed by Bloomberg was $124.83 as of Jan. 5.
With files from The Canadian Press