Skip to main content


Canada’s main stock index edged higher Wednesday for a third straight session, helped by financials, while Wall Street indexes largely were treading water ahead of the afternoon rate decision from the Federal Reserve.

At 9:32 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 30.15 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 19,685.07.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 9.59 points, or 0.03 per cent, at the open to 32,570.19.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 0.83 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 4,002.04, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.61 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 11,857.50 at the opening bell.

Wednesday’s main event will be the Fed rate decision. Markets are expecting the U.S. central bank to hike by a quarter percentage point, although some analysts still argue that a pause is possible given the recent market volatility.

“It very much feels like we’re just taking one day at a time at the minute,” OANDA senior analyst Craig Erlam said.

“Every day that passes without drama is one closer to the point at which we can put the mini-banking crisis behind us. But it’s still early days and investors are all too aware of that which is why we’re seeing a tentative recovery at this point.”

Markets have been roiled by bank failures in the U.S. regional banking sector as well as the emergency rescue of Credit Suisse by rival UBS over the weekend.

“This period of calm will no doubt be welcomed by the Fed and allow for it to continue hiking by 25 basis points without much controversy,” Mr. Erlam said.

“The question is whether it will adopt a similar position to its counterpart in Europe and refrain from commenting directly on future moves or sending any strong signals.”

The Fed’s decision is due at 2 p.m. ET.

In Canada, investors will also get deliberations from the Bank of Canada’s March 8 policy decision. The central bank held rates steady at that meeting. RBC chief currency strategist Adam Cole said the deliberations are “unlikely to add much to the statement released at the time.” The deliberations are scheduled for release at 1:30 p.m. ET.

On the corporate side, The Globe’s Jason Kirby reports that a U.S. activist hedge fund is pushing for an overhaul of Parkland Corp. that would see the company’s refinery and fuel distribution businesses sold or spun-off to create a “pure play” fuel and convenience-store retailer. In a letter delivered to Calgary-based Parkland Wednesday morning, New York-based Engine Capital LP said if the company’s board is unwilling to implement its recommendations, it should explore the sale of Parkland to private equity or strategic buyers.

Overseas, the pan-European STOXX was up 0.29 per cent by midday. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.18 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.53 per cent and 0.32 per cent, respectively.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.93 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.73 per cent.


Crude prices dipped after two gains of gains after new figures showed an unexpected rise in weekly U.S. inventories, again raising demand concerns amid economic uncertainty.

The day range on Brent was US$74.50 to US$75.21 in the early premarket period. The range on West Texas Intermediate was US$68.89 to US$69.54.

So far, both benchmarks are up about 3 per cent on the week.

Prices saw some downward pressure from the latest inventory numbers from the American Petroleum Institute. That report showed a rise in crude stocks by about 3.3 million barrels last week.

Analysts polled by Reuters had been looking for a decline of about 1.6 million barrels.

More official figures will be released later in the morning from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Meanwhile, traders are also awaiting this afternoon’s Fed decision for signals about the direction of the economy and any comments on the current crisis in the banking sector.

“Both gold and oil are down due to increasing rate hike pressure, but the real test will come later today during the FOMC statement, especially if [Fed chair Jerome] Powell comes off as hawkish,” Stephen Innes, managing partner with SPI Asset Management, said.

Early Wednesday morning, spot gold was unchanged at US$1,940.20 per ounce, after dropping 2 per cent on Tuesday. U.S. gold futures were also flat at US$1,940.60.


The Canadian dollar was little changed while its U.S. counterpart held near a five-week low ahead of this afternoon’s Fed decision.

The day range on the loonie was 72.86 US cents to 73.01 US cents. The Canadian dollar is up 0.41 per cent against the greenback over the last five days but down more than 1 per cent for the year to date.

There were no major Canadian economic releases due Wednesday. Markets will get retail sales figures on Friday.

On world markets, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the currency against six peers, was at 103.19, just above the five-week low of 102.99 touched overnight, according to figures from Reuters.

The euro was at US$1.0770, trading around a five-week high of US$1.0789 scaled overnight. The yen strengthened 0.04 per cent to 132.47 per U.S. dollar. Britain’s pound was last trading at US$1.2233, up 0.16 per cent on the day.

The Australian dollar rose 0.36 per cent to US$0.6694, while the New Zealand dollar gained 0.11 per cent to US$0.6199, Reuters reported.

In bonds, the yield on the U.S. 10-year note was slightly lower at 3.587 per cent in the predawn period.

More company news

Billionaire Richard Branson’s cash-strapped Virgin Orbit Holdings Inc is near a deal for a $200 million investment from Texas-based venture capital investor Matthew Brown via a private share placement, according to a term sheet seen by Reuters. A successful deal would be a major boost of confidence in the satellite launch company that saw its market capitalization slump to a record low of $150 million on Tuesday from more than $3 billion two years ago when it went public through a blank-check deal. -Reuters

GameStop Corp posted a surprise profit for the fourth quarter, its first since early 2021, as lower costs and job cuts padded the videogame retailer’s bottom line, sending its shares sharply higher. The company has also been shoring up its online sales capabilities in a bid to beef up its digital presence and diversify from the current mainstay of brick-and-mortar stores as competition heats up from bigger retailers. -Reuters

Economic news

830 am ET: Canada household and mortgage credit for January.

830 am ET: Canada national population estimates for the fourth quarter.

130 pm ET: Bank of Canada summary of deliberations for the March 8 policy decision.

Saskatchewan budget

2pm ET: FOMC announcement and summary of economic projections. Fed Chair Jerome Powell holds press conference at 230 pm.

With Reuters and The Canadian Press