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Inside the Market Before the Bell: U.S. and Canadian stocks set to open higher, adding to gains

U.S. and Canadian stocks are set to rise again Thursday as investors await data that’s expected to show that higher interest rates are on the way and commodity prices, particularly copper, continue to gain.

That sentiment could bode well for financial stocks again, which led Wednesday’s big gains in the U.S. In Canada, materials stocks paved the way higher as copper prices rose. The TSX 60 futures were up 0.08 per cent Thursday.

In the U.S., jobless claims due at 8:30 a.m. ET and consumer credit numbers will be released at 3 p.m. ET.

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In Canada, traders will also be on edge watching the election in Ontario, the country’s most populous province. Investors will also be watching the G7 gathering in Quebec as ongoing trade issues simmer between the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Overseas, world stocks hit a three-week high on Thursday and the euro and euro zone bond yields extended gains as investors priced in a potentially earlier-than-expected wind-down of ECB stimulus.

The selloff in safe-haven Bunds and U.S. Treasuries drove money into riskier assets, especially financial stocks, despite investors’ anxiety over how a G7 leaders summit that kicks off on Friday will pan out in view of global trade concerns.

European stocks pared gains by mid-morning, however, as the euro rose, weighing on exporting companies. Bank stocks led the way higher.

Britain's FTSE was up 0.02 per cent, Germany’s DAX gained 0.15 per cent and France’s CAC added 0.28 per cent.

In Asia, Hong Kong stocks rose, encouraged by signs of progress in the Sino-U.S. trade talks, easing fears of a trade war. The Hang Seng gained 0.81 per cent but China’s Shanghai index slipped 0.2 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.87 per cent.

China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that the country does not want an escalation of trade frictions with the United States, and that some specific progress was made in the latest round of talks that concluded over the weekend.

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Oil rose on Thursday on concerns about a plunge in exports from Venezuela, although surging U.S. production kept gains in check.

Venezuela, which faces the threat of U.S. sanctions and is in the midst of an economic crisis, is nearly a month behind delivering crude to customers from its main oil export terminals, according to shipping data, and chronic delays and production declines could breach state-run PDVSA’s supply contracts if backlogs are not cleared soon.

Tankers waiting to load more than 24 million barrels of crude, almost as much as state producer PDVSA shipped in April, are sitting off the OPEC member’s main oil port, according to shipping data.

“Troubles over supply from Venezuela come at a time when OPEC is considering easing supply cuts which have been in place since 2017 and were implemented to support the price,” London Capital Group head of research Jasper Lawler said.

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“The big question for oil is whether or not OPEC decides to ease the production cuts, with the meeting still some two weeks away, oil traders could be in for an increased bout of volatility.”

A weaker dollar helped to push gold prices higher on Thursday, but gains were limited as the market waited for clues on the pace of U.S. interest rate increases from a meeting of the Federal Reserve next week.

“The rise in prices is due to the dollar,” said Capital Economics analyst Simona Gambarini. “The dollar has been the main driver of prices in recent weeks.”

A weaker dollar is good for gold because it makes the metal cheaper for buyers using other currencies and can fuel demand.

However, Gambarini said investors were in wait-and-see mode ahead of the Fed meeting on June 12-13, when they expect both a rate rise and signals on the outlook for U.S. monetary policy.

Commodities continued to climb thanks to a still strong global economy and tight supply. Copper hit its highest level this year at US$7,295 per tonne, driven up 0.8 per cent by supply concerns over disruption at the Escondida mine in Chile. It was on track for its sixth straight day of gains, its longest run since December.

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In other precious metals, silver was up 0.3 per cent at US$16.69 an ounce. The metal broke above its 100-day moving average on Wednesday and looked poised to move above the 200-day moving average, improving its technical outlook. Commerzbank said the moves higher suggest a recovery towards US$17.50-US$17.74.

Platinum was down 0.1 per cent at US$901.20 an ounce, while palladium also eased by 0.1 per cent to US$1,015.01 after breaking above its 100-day and 200-day moving averages on Wednesday.


The Canadian dollar slid Thursday but was still above the 77 cent US mark.

The euro climbed to a three-week high on Thursday as investors raised their bets that the European Central Bank will next week signal a winding down of its vast bond-buying program by the end of this year.

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The central bank’s chief economist Peter Praet, a close ally of President Mario Draghi, said on Wednesday that the ECB would debate at its policy meeting next week whether to end bond purchases later this year.

The euro hit its highest level since May 15 at US$1.1838, and traded up 0.5 per cent at US$1.1827 in its fourth straight session of gains. It helped drive the dollar index down 0.4 per cent to 93.295.

Despite the improving mood among investors on Thursday many remain cautious, especially ahead of a summit this weekend of the Group of Seven leaders when President Donald Trump looks set to clash with his counterparts over trade.

After a six-week long rapid rally the dollar has failed to break above key levels against some of its rivals, raising concerns the greenback’s weakness may have more room to run.

Against the yen, for example, it has failed to break above a 200 day moving average, potentially opening the door for more losses before a key G7 meeting this weekend.

The dollar fell 0.2 per cent to 109.98 yen.

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Treasuries yields rose Thursday on the expectation of higher interest rates in the future. The 10-year Treasury yield was up at 2.9828 per cent. The 10-year Canadian bond 2.325 per cent.

Stocks to watch

Dollar-store chain Dollarama Inc. on Thursday reported a 7.3 per cent rise in quarterly profit as customers spent more at its stores during the Easter holiday. Net income rose to $101.6 million, or $92 cents per share in the first quarter ended April 29, from $94.7 million, or 82 cents per share, a year earlier. Total sales rose to $756.1 million from $704.9 million.

J.M. Smucker Co.’s fourth-quarter results and full-year forecast missed Wall Street estimates, hit by weak demand for its edible oil brands such as Crisco, Jif peanut butter and baking items. Smucker’s shares fell 7 per cent to $99 in light premarket trading on Thursday as the company forecast adjusted profit of $8.40 to $8.65 per share, well short of analysts’ average estimate of $9.22.

In a stunning setback for Quebec’s securities watchdog, a judge has dismissed the insider trading case against online gambling mogul David Baazov and two associates mid-trial because of mistakes by the regulator. A separate AMF investigation continues into other aspects of Mr. Baazov’s activities while he was CEO of Amaya. AMF officials say that probe is larger in scope, looking into information Mr. Baazov allegedly passed on about several impending takeover deals. It could also result in charges. The court case centred on the takeover by Montreal-based Amaya Inc. – now known as Stars Group Inc. – of popular internet cardroom PokerStars for US$4.9-billion. The deal was made possible with the backing of Wall Street institutional investor Blackstone Group LP.

Tesla dropped 0.5 per cent after Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said it was unlikely that the electric car maker would reach its Model 3 production target of 5,000 per week, before the first half of 2019. Tesla added about $5 billion in market value on Wednesday after billionaire Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk gave encouraging comments about Model 3 production.

Allergan jumped 2.7 per cent following reports that billionaire investor Carl Icahn acquired a small stake in the company.

Bank stocks continued to gain. Shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan and Citigroup were up nearly 0.5 per cent in premarket trading.

Earnings include: Broadcom Inc.; Canadian Western Bank; Dell Technologies Ltd.; Enghouse Systems Ltd.; Major Drilling Group International Inc.; Saputo Inc.; Stingray Digital Group Inc.; Transcontinental.

Economic news

(8:30 a.m. ET) U.S. initial jobless claims for the week of June 2. The Street expects 223,000, up from 221,000 in the previous week.

(10:30 a.m. ET) Bank of Canada’s semi-annual Financial Systems Review is released. Press conference with governor Stephen Poloz to follow at 11:15 a.m.

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