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Equities

Canada’s main stock index edged higher at the open with a gain in health-care stocks helping offset weakness in the energy sector. South of the border, key indexes rebounded after the previous session’s rout, helped by a better-than-expected reading on weekly U.S. jobless claims.

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At 9:34 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 10.35 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 19,118.12.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.08 points, or 0.11 per cent, at the open to 33,624.74. The S&P 500 opened higher by 11.95 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 4,074.99, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 119.26 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 13,150.94 at the opening bell.

“Fears about overheating seem somewhat premature at this time given the disruption wrought by the pandemic and the price disruptions of the past 12 months,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst with CMC Markets U.K., said.

Despite Wednesday’s surprise reading on U.S. inflation - the annual rate of inflation rose to 4.2 per cent in April - Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida continued to indicate that the powerful central bank had no plans to tighten policy. He said it would be “some time” before the U.S. economy was strong enough to consider reducing support, although the latest reading on inflation was “well above” what he was expecting.

“Base effects still made a good chunk of yesterday’s big rise [in the inflation rate] with gasoline and other crude oil derivatives adding a decent percentage to the numbers as well,” Mr. Hewson said.

“This sort of nuance appears to have been overlooked in yesterday’s sell off in the U.S.”

Ahead of the start of trading, investors got another reading on price pressures in the United States. The U.S. Labor Department said the producer price index for final demand rose 0.6 per cent in April after a 1-per-cent increase in March. For the 12-month period the PPI rose 6.2 per cent. Separately, the U.S. Labor Department reported that weekly U.S. jobless claims fell to 473,000 for the week ended May 8, compared to 507,000 in the prior week. Economists had been looking for a number closer to 490,000.

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Investors will hear from Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem Thursday morning when he speaks to Atlantic Canadian universities via webcast. The speech will be published on the central bank’s website at 11 a.m. ET. A news conference follows Mr. Macklem’s remarks.

On the corporate side, earnings continue. Canadian Tire, Canada Goose, Quebecor, Brookfield Asset Management and Aurora Cannabis are all scheduled to report.

Ahead of the open, Canadian Tire Corp reported first-quarter revenue ahead of analysts’ forecasts as consumers bought home-related items during the pandemic. Canadian Tire’s quarterly revenue rose to $3.32-billion from $2.85-billion a year earlier, beating analysts’ average estimate of $2.92-billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

In Europe, the pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.25 per cent by afternoon. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.77 per cent. Germany’s DAX added 017 per cent while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.07 per cent.

Japan’s Nikkei closed down 2.49 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 1.81 per cent.

Commodities

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Crude prices fell in early going as the COVID-19 crisis in India overshadowed optimistic demand forecasts.

The day range on Brent is US$67.62 to US$69.04. The range on West Texas Intermediate is US$64.36 to US$65.81. Both benchmarks were down by more than 1 per cent in the predawn period.

“The path for crude prices appears to be higher but until the situation improves in India, WTI will probably struggle to break above the early March high,” OANDA senior analyst Ed Moya said in a recent note.

On Wednesday, the International Energy Agency’s latest forecast indicated that group expects demand to outstrip supply this year. A day earlier, OPEC also issued an optimistic demand forecast.

However, markets remain concerned about the health crisis in India, the world’s third biggest market for crude.

Mr. Moya also noted that weekly U.S. inventory figures from the Energy Information Administration showed a small-than-expected draw, with some data affected by the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.

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“Exports suffered the worst decline on record, while crude imports were mostly steady,” Mr. Moya said. “Crude production rose 100,000 barrels per day, but still remains capped by the 11-million mark and that seems to be a key level if untouched that will keep OPEC+ happy.”

In other commodities, gold edged higher.

Spot gold was up 0.3 per cent at US$1,821.02 per ounce, after falling more than 1 per cent in the previous session.

U.S. gold futures eased 0.1 per cent to US$1,821.60.

“We’re still getting on the aftershock of that consumer price index release and the expectations now from the market that the Fed will be forced to do something about inflation,” IG Market analyst Kyle Rodda said.

Currencies

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The Canadian dollar was little changed as its U.S. counterpart held recent gains in early trading against a basket of world currencies.

The day range on the loonie is 82.26 US cents to 82.61 US cents.

“FX markets have settled overnight after the volatility around the US CPI and markets were initially seemingly unsure whether the data were positive or negative for USD,” RBC chief currency strategist Adam Cole said.

Canadian investors will get fresh remarks from Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem later in the morning. The topic of Mr. Macklem’s morning address is ‘The benefits of an inclusive economy.’ A news conference will follow.

On world markets, the U.S. dollar index, which weighs the greenback against a group of global currencies, was steady at 90.734, compared to Wednesday’s high of 90.798.

The Australian dollar, often seen as a proxy for risk appetite, was down 0.3 per cent at 0.77055 versus the U.S. dollar, extending losses after having its biggest daily drop since March on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

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The New Zealand dollar briefly rose after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was exploring quarantine-free travel with other countries, but was last down 0.2 per cent, the news agency reported.

The euro was up 0.1 per cent at US$1.2084.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin dropped 17 per cent overnight when Elon Musk said in a tweet that Tesla Inc will no longer accept the cryptocurrency for car purchases.

Bitcoin dropped from around US$54,819 to US$45,700, its lowest since March 1 before recovering during the Asian session. The cryptocurrency was last up 3 per cent at US$50,908.

More company news

Canada Goose Holdings Inc beat analysts’ estimates for fourth-quarter revenue, helped by surging online sales and strong demand for the apparel maker’s luxury parkas in China. Revenue rose to $208.8-million from $140.9-million a year earlier, beating analysts’ estimates of $164.8-million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Quebecor Inc. reported its first-quarter profit fell compared with a year ago as its revenue climbed higher, helped by gains in its telecommunications business. The company says its net income attributable to shareholders totalled $121.3-million or 49 cents per share for the quarter ended March 31, down from a profit of $131.6-million or 52 cents per share a year ago. Revenue for the quarter totalled $1.09-billion, up from nearly $1.06-billion in the first quarter last year.

Tesla Inc has suspended the use of bitcoin to purchase its vehicles because of climate concerns, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said in a tweet on Wednesday, reversing the company’s stance in the face of an outcry from some environmentalists and investors. Tesla Inc revealed in February it had bought $1.5-billion of bitcoin and would soon accept it as payment for cars, driving a roughly 20 per cent surge in the world’s most widely held cryptocurrency. Musk on Wednesday said Tesla would not sell any bitcoin, and intends to use bitcoin for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy.

Economic news

(8:30 a.m. ET) Canadian industrial product price index for April.

(8:30 a.m. ET) U.S. initial jobless claims for week of May 8.

(8:30 a.m. ET) U.S. PPI Final Demand for April.

(11 a.m. ET) Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem speaks to Atlantic Canadian universities (webcast)

With Reuters and The Canadian Press

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