Wall Street futures rose early Friday as traders bet a fresh reading on U.S. inflation convince the Federal Reserve to ease off on future rate hikes. Major European markets were positive. TSX futures were little changed.
In the early premarket period, Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures all hovered near break even. On Thursday, all three saw gains and are on track for a positive week. Canada’s S&P/TSX Composite Index ended Thursday up 0.52 per cent. The index is up nearly 2 per cent for the week heading into Friday’s session.
Canada’s main stock index opened up Friday after GDP figures came in above forecasts and the $20-billion Rogers-Shaw deal won federal approval. Wall Street also advanced at the opening bell after a fresh reading on U.S. inflation will give the Federal Reserve latitude to ease off on future rate hikes.
At 9:33 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 121.11 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 20,062.1.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 42.93 points, or 0.13 per cent, at the open to 32,901.96.
The S&P 500 opened higher by 5.35 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 4,056.18, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 18.07 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 12,031.54 at the opening bell.
On Friday morning, Wall Street got a tamer-than-forecast reading on the Federal Reserve’s favoured measure of inflation. The Commerce Department’s report showed the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index, which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, rose 0.3 per cent in February, on a monthly basis, compared with a 0.6 per cent rise in January.
Meanwhile, in Canada, markets got a better-than-expected reading on January GDP ahead of the start of trading. Statistics Canada said early Friday that GDP grew 0.5 per cent in January, ahead of the 0.4 per cent most economists had been expecting. Early estimates suggested growth of 0.3 per cent is likely in February, the agency said.
On the corporate side, two years after it was first announced, Rogers’ $20-billion takeover of Shaw received approval from the federal government early Friday morning.
The Globe’s Alexandra Posadzki reports Ottawa cleared the way for the deal by approving the transfer of Shaw’s wireless licences to Videotron Ltd. with a number of conditions attached. The deal combines the country’s two largest cable networks and allows Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron to expand outside of its home province of Quebec by acquiring Shaw’s Freedom Mobile, Canada’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, for $2.85-billion.
Rogers shares were up about 1 per cent shortly after the opening bell in Toronto. Shaw’s stock was gained more than 3 per cent.
Overseas, the pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.39 per cent by midday. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.28 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.45 per cent and 0.52 per cent, respectively.
In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished up 0.93 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.45 per cent.
Crude prices were weaker and looked set for their worst monthly showing since November.
The day range on Brent was US$78.54 to US$79.43 in the early premarket period. The range on West Texas Intermediate was US$73.77 to US74.67. So far this week, Brent is up about 5 per cent while WTI is up about 7 per cent.
However, for the month, Brent is down about 6 per cent while WTI is off about 4 per cent, representing the worst month since late last year.
“Recent volatility has been a firm reminder of the uncertainty that lies ahead, even as we seemingly near the end of the tightening cycles,” OANDA senior analyst Craig Erlam said.
“While some consequences of much higher interest rates will be obvious, others will be much harder to foresee and that brings downside risks for growth.”
Prices have seen upward pressure this week from the latest weekly U.S. inventory figures, which showed crude stocks at a two-year low.
As well, oil prices were buoyed after producers shut in or reduced output at several oilfields in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq following a halt to the northern export pipeline, Reuters reported.
Next week, the OPEC+ group meets but markets are widely expecting the group to stick to current production plans.
In other commodities, spot gold was down 0.1 per cent at US$1978.65 per ounce early Friday morning. U.S. gold futures eased 0.1 per cent to US$1,978.00. Gold prices are set for their best monthly showing in more than two years and are up more than 8 per cent for the first quarter.
The Canadian dollar was down in early trading while its U.S. counterpart advanced against a group of world counterparts.
The day range on the loonie was 73.71 US cents to 74.04 US cents in the predawn period. The loonie is up about 1.45 per cent against the greenback over the last five days.
On world markets, the U.S. dollar index, which weighs the greenback against a basket of currencies, rose 0.19 per cent to 102.34 early Friday morning. The index is down more than 1 per cent in the first quarter after falling 7.7 per cent in the final quarter of last year, according to figures from Reuters.
The euro was at US$1.0883, down 0.2 per cent on the day, but on track for a 1.1-per-cent weekly gain.
In bonds, the yield on the U.S. 10-year note was up modestly at 3.562 per cent in the predawn period.
More company news
Rio Tinto Ltd and Canada’s First Quantum Minerals Ltd will form a joint venture to develop the La Granja copper project in Peru, the Anglo-Australian miner said on Friday. First Quantum will buy a 55% stake in the project for $105 million, and commit to invest up to $546 million in the joint venture. Rio Tinto had acquired the La Granja project from Peru’s government in 2006.
BlackBerry Ltd. reported a net loss of US$495-million in its fourth quarter, downfrom earning US$144-million a year earlier. The Waterloo, Ont.-based technology company, which reports in U.S. dollars, says earnings per diluted share were negative 85 cents for the quarter ended Feb. 28, down from a three-cent loss a year earlier. The company attributed its loss primarily to a $476-million non-cash, goodwill and long-lived asset impairment charge that affected its operating income. Revenues for the fourth quarter were $151-million, down 18 per cent from $185-million a year earlier. -The Canadian Press
Norway’s Yara and Canada’s Enbridge plan to invest up to US$2.9-billion to build a low-carbon blue ammonia production plant in Texas, they said on Friday. Blue ammonia, rather than green ammonia derived from renewable energy, refers to ammonia produced from natural gas, with the carbon dioxide (CO2) byproduct captured and stored. The plant, which will be Yara’s biggest, is to be built at the Enbridge Ingleside Energy Center near Corpus Christi, with the start of production planned for 2027-28, the companies said.
(8:30 a.m. ET) Canada’s monthly real GDP for January.
(8:30 a.m. ET) U.S. personal spending and income for February.
(8:30 a.m. ET) U.S. core PCE price index for February.
(9:45 a.m. ET) U.S. Chicago PMI for March.
(10 a.m. ET) U.S. University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment for March.
With Reuters and The Canadian Press