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Equities

Canada’s main stock index started lower Wednesday on weakness in tech and financial shares while traders await the Bank of Canada’s policy announcement later in the morning. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were also down with Alphabet shares sliding on the back of the company’s latest results.

At 9:31 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 49.59 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 18,936.9.

In the U.S., the S&P 500 opened lower by 15.26 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 4,232.42, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 100.01 points, or 0.76 per cent, to 13,039.86 at the opening bell.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 62.15 points, or 0.19 per cent, at the open to 33,203.53.

On Wednesday, Canadian investors will get the Bank of Canada’s next policy announcement this morning. Markets are widely expecting the central bank to hold steady on borrowing costs after last week’s September inflation report came in below market forecasts. The announcement is due at 10 a.m. ET. The bank will also release its quarter monetary policy report. A press conference with Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem follows.

“Today’s Bank of Canada rate meeting is expected to deliver an unchanged decision, keeping rates steady at 5 per cent while keeping the options open for further rate hikes,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst with CMC Market’s U.K., said, noting the most recent Canadian payrolls report showed jobs growth remained strong last month while wage growth edged higher.

“All told Bank of Canada [governor] Tiff Macklem is unlikely to want to deliver any sort of message that could be considered dovish against that sort of backdrop,” Mr. Hewson said.

The European Central Bank follows on Thursday with its latest monetary policy announcement. That central bank is also expected to keep rates unchanged.

On the corporate side, shares of Google parent Alphabet were down more than 8 per cent in early trading after the tech giant topped market profit and revenue forecasts in the latest quarter but fell short in its cloud business. Microsoft shares, meanwhile, were up more than 3 per cent after that company beat Wall Street estimates for first-quarter results, helped by strong showings from its cloud-computing and PC businesses. Both companies reported results after Tuesday’s closing bell.

After the end of trading Tuesday, Wall Street will get earnings from Facebook parent Meta Platforms and IBM.

“While the market appeared to like what Microsoft had to say the reaction to Alphabet was different,” Mr. Hewson said in an early note.

“Social media company Snap may have also given a taste of Meta’s results later today with a solid set of Q3 numbers, posting a surprise profit of 2 cents a share as well as beating on revenues sending the shares up over 20% after hours, although the gains didn’t last very long,” he said.

In Canada, Canadian National Railway said net income in its third quarter fell 24 per cent to $1.11 billion from $1.46 billion in the same period a year earlier. CN says revenues decreased 12 per cent to $3.99-billion from $4.51-billion the year before, The Canadian Press reported. On an adjusted basis, diluted earnings were down 21 per cent at $1.69 per share from $2.13 per share last year, slightly below analyst expectations of $1.72 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. The results were released after Tuesday’s close.

Canadian Pacific Kansas City Railway reports this afternoon.

Overseas, the pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.02 per cent just before midday. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.25 per cent. Germany’s DAX was up 0.09 per cent while France’s CAC 40 was flat.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished up 0.67 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.55 per cent.

Commodities

Crude prices wavered in early trading, with demand concerns offsetting support from a surprise drop in weekly U.S. inventories.

The day range on Brent was US$87.55 to US$88.45 in the early premarket period. The range on West Texas Intermediate was US$83.16 to US$83.98.

Demand concerns have been weighing on prices this week after new figures showed a downturn in European business activity this month.

However, the first of two weekly U.S. inventory reports offered some support. The American Petroleum Institute said U.S. crude stocks fell 2.7 million barrels last week. Analysts polled by Reuters had been forecasting a modest increase.

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

“Oil prices dipped on Wednesday, further extending recent significant losses, as worries about a potential European Union recession weighed on demand sentiment,” Stephen Innes, managing partner with SPI Asset Management, said.

“However, contrasting data indicated a continuous decrease in U.S. inventories, which should limit losses.”

In other commodities, spot gold was up 0.1 per cent to US$1,971.90 per ounce by early Wednesday morning, having declined in the previous two sessions and trading below a five-month high hit last week, Reuters reported. U.S. gold futures fell 0.1 per cent to US$1,983.70.

Currencies

The Canadian dollar slid ahead of this morning’s Bank of Canada rate announcement, while its U.S. counterpart held steady against a basket of currencies.

The day range on the loonie was 72.61 US cents to 72.83 US cents in the predawn period. The Canadian dollar was down about 0.37 per cent against the greenback over the past five days as of early Wednesday morning.

“The CAD is softer, trading back to near its early October high but weakness is more or less in line with its major currency peers on the day,” Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist with Scotiabank, said.

“There is little in the way of suspense ahead of the Bank of Canada policy decision. Markets have priced out all but any chance of a rate hike following the dip in September CPI.”

The U.S. dollar index, which weighs the greenback against a selection of currencies, was steady at 106.3. The index slid 0.44 per cent on Monday and rose 0.62 per cent on Tuesday.

The euro was last at US$1.0596 and Britain’s pound at US$1.2163 both flat on the day, according to figures from Reuters.

In bonds, the yield on the U.S. 10-year note was slightly higher at 4.859 per cent, holding below 5 per cent but still near multiyear highs. The 10-year yield breached 5 per cent on Monday, hitting levels last seen in 2007.

More company news

Boeing on Wednesday cut its 737 delivery forecast for this year due to quality issues at supplier Spirit AeroSystems, a temporary setback to the planemaker that is looking to recover from its own set of crises. The company was aiming to deliver 400 to 450 737 jets in 2023 but was forced to temper that goal to 375 to 400 jets after two separate quality issues at Spirit, which makes fuselages for the cash-cow narrowbody jets. -Reuters

Economic news

(10 a.m. ET) Bank of Canada policy announcement and Monetary Policy Report release with Governor Tiff Macklem’s press conference to follow.

(10 a.m. ET) U.S. new home sales for September.

(4:35 p.m. ET) U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell delivers the opening remarks at the Moynihan Lecture in Social Science and Public Policy in Washington.

With Reuters and The Canadian Press

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