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Canada’s main stock index wavered at Wednesday’s open with financial shares under pressure while mining stocks gained. On Wall Street, key indexes saw modest early losses as interest rate concerns remain high.

At 9:34 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 6.87 points, or 0.03%, at 20,228.06.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.33 points at the open to 32,656.37.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 6.81 points, or 0.17 per cent, at 3,963.34, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.96 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 11,447.58 at the opening bell.

“Overall, the narrative has turned weaker, but it’s unsurprising: inflation has proved stickier, and it takes time for higher rates and yields to be passed on to average funding costs,” Stephen Innes, managing partner with SPI Asset Management, said.

Interest rates remain a big concern for markets. Traders have started to price in the chances of a 50 basis-point rate hike in March from the Federal Reserve, although the odds remain low at about 23 per cent, according to Fed fund futures, which suggest rates peaking at 5.4 per cent by September. The Bank of Canada, meanwhile, makes its next policy decision on March 8. After hiking rates eight consecutive times, the central bank is expected to hold steady after signalling a conditional pause on its tightening campaign.

On Wednesday, Canada’s big banks continue to report results with earnings due from Royal Bank and National Bank. TD Bank ends the cycle with its results on Thursday morning. On Tuesday, Scotiabank fell short of market expectations while BMO topped forecasts.

Royal Bank, Canada’s biggest lender, reported overall net income of $3.2-billion, or $2.29 a share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31, compared with $4.1-billion, or $2.84 a share, a year ago. RBC reported adjusted earnings of $3.05 per share, up from $2.87 a year earlier and ahead of the $2.94 analysts had been forecasting. Provisions for bad loans came in at $532-million for the quarter, up from $105-million a year ago. Shares were down more than 2 per cent in early trading in Toronto.

National Bank, meanwhile, said profit for the three months ended Jan. 31 was $881-million or $2.49 per share, compared with $930-million or $2.64 per share a year earlier. Shares were up more than 2 per cent shortly after the opening bell.

On Wall Street, retailer Lowe’s reported this morning. Salesforce reports after the close of trading.

Elsewhere, Norway’s Equinor is close to reaching a deal to buy Suncor Energy’s British North Sea oil and gas assets for around $1-billion, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. The deal includes Suncor’s 40-per-cent stake in the Equinor-operated offshore Rosebank oil and gas project, located some 130 kilometres northwest of Shetland Islands, and one of the largest developments in the ageing basin, Reuters reported Wednesday morning.

Overseas, the pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.20 per cent by midday. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.90 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.60 per cent and 0.63 per cent, respectively.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished up 0.26 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 4.21 per cent with the tech index up more than 6 per cent.


Crude prices struggled to hold early gains despite a positive reading on China’s factory activity, which boosted optimism about demand from one of the world’s biggest consumers of oil.

The day range on Brent was US$82l90 to US$84.20 in the predawn period. The range on West Texas Intermediate was US$76.40 to US$77.47.

Early Wednesday, new figures showed China’s manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace in more than a decade last month, Reuters reported.

“All we need to see now are signs of cooling price pressures and perhaps less heat in the labour market in order for crude to potentially break higher,” OANDA senior analyst Craig Erlam said.

“Higher interest rates forcing a hard landing remains the main downside risk for crude prices which has driven the consolidation we’ve seen in recent months, and recent data has only fed those fears.”

Sentiment was tempered somewhat by a rise in weekly crude inventories in the United States. The American Petroleum Institute reported that U.S. crude stocks rose by 6.2 million barrels last week.

More official numbers are due later this morning from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In other commodities, spot gold rose 0.2 per cent to US$1,830.30 per ounce by early Wednesday morning, after hitting a two-month low in the previous session. U.S. gold futures rose 0.3 per cent to US$1,842.00.

“Gold is quietly heading for a third day of gains, boosted by a softer dollar today as other currencies react favourably to the Chinese survey data,” Mr. Erlam said.


The Canadian dollar was up in early trading while its U.S. counterpart pulled back against a basket of currencies after adding about 3 per cent last month.

The day range on the loonie was 73.20 US cents to 73.58 US cents in the early premarket period. The Canadian dollar fell more than 2 per cent last month against the U.S. dollar and is down 0.36 per cent for the year to date.

There were no major Canadian economic reports due Wednesday.

On world markets, the U.S. dollar index, which weighs the greenback against a selection of currencies was down 0.6 per cent at 104.36 by early Wednesday morning, according to figures from Reuters.

The index ended a four-month losing streak in February, adding nearly 3 per cent as markets bet the Fed will keep rates higher for longer.

The euro was last up 0.7 per cent against the U.S. dollar at US$1.0650.

Britain’s pound rose 0.5 per cent to US$1.2081, having surged 1 per cent at the start of the week after Britain struck a post-Brexit Northern Ireland trade deal with the European Union, Reuters reported.

In bonds, the yield on the U.S. 10-year note was up at 3.945 per cent in the predawn period.

More company news

Lowe’s Cos Inc forecast full-year sales below market expectations on Wednesday, hit by weak demand for home improvement products as inflation forces consumers to pause spending on projects around their homes. The company said it expected full-year total sales of $88-billion to $90-billion, while analysts on average estimated annual revenue of $90.48-billion, according to Refinitiv data. -Reuters

The Panamanian government and Canada’s First Quantum are nearing an agreement on their negotiations over the contract to operate a major copper mine, Ebrahim Asvat, a lawyer advising the government on the negotiations told Reuters on Tuesday. An agreement could be reached in less than two weeks, Asvat said, noting there are only three issues left to be solved, with two of them being in the final stage of negotiations. -Reuters

The Frankfurt-listed shares of COVID-19 vaccine maker Novavax fell 26% on Wednesday, after the company raised doubts the day before about its ability to remain in business. U.S.-listed shares in Novavax fell 25% in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

Pipeline operator Enbridge Inc said on Wednesday it would buy a gas storage facility in Tres Palacios in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast region for $335-million to strengthen its liquefied natural gas (LNG) export business. The deal looks to tap into high demand for North American LNG exports after Western sanctions on major producer Russia following its invasion of Ukraine squeezed a tight global supply.

Eli Lilly and Co said it would reduce prices by 70% for its most commonly prescribed forms of insulin. The U.S. drug maker said the reduced prices for its branded insulin injections, Humalog and Humulin, will be effective from the fourth quarter of this year.

Economic news

(10 a.m. ET) U.S. ISM Manufacturing PMI for February.

(10 a.m. ET) U.S. construction spending for January.

With Reuters and The Canadian Press