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TSX Poised For Higher Open On Positive Global Cues - Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks are poised for a higher open Wednesday as risk appetite improved after Chinese Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said China remains confident in the euro. Further, today's economic data from the euro region came in encouraging.

The German economy shrank for the first time since the first three months of 2009, while defying expectations for a contraction, the French economy expanded strongly.

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a higher open after a report revealed that manufacturing activity in New York State continued to expand in the month of February.

On Tuesday, the S&P/TSX Composite Index shed 44.22 points or 0.36 percent to 12,354.47.

The price of crude oil was moving higher Wednesday morning as traders await cues from the official inventories data, due out later during the session today. Analysts expect crude oil inventories to gain 1.60 million barrels and gasoline stocks to add 775,000 barrels last week. Also, sentiment improved after China reiterated that the country will continue to invest in European government debt to help resolve Europe's debt problems. Crude for March was up $0.75 to $101.49 a barrel.

The price of gold was rebounding after China reiterated that the country will continue to invest in European government debt to help resolve Europe's debt problems. Gold for April added $13.40 to $1,731.10 an ounce.

In corporate news from Canada, diversified, upstream oil and gas company Talisman Energy (TLM.TO) reported a narrower fourth quarter net loss of $117 million or $0.11 per share compared with last year's $350 million or $0.34 per share loss. Adjusted earnings came in at $114 million or $0.11 per share down from $129 million or $0.13 per share in the comparable period prior year. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings per share of $0.19 for the quarter.

Oil company Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) reported improved quarterly earnings of $266 million or $0.35 per share compared to $78 million or $0.10 per share recorded a year ago. The company upped its dividend by 10 percent to $0.22 per share

Brookfield Office Properties (BOX_UN.TO) reported that its fourth quarter funds from operations were C$33.1 million or C$0.36 per unit, up from C$27.0 million or C$0.29 per unit in the year ago quarter. The board announced a distribution of C$0.09 per trust unit.

Real estate services provider FirstService Corp. (FSV.TO) swung to profit in fourth quarter, reporting net earnings of $65.6 million or $2.01 per share compared to last year's loss of $3.7 million or $0.12 per share. Adjusted earnings went up to $15.8 million or $0.52 per share from $11.4 million or $0.37 per share. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings per share of $0.52 for the quarter.

Construction products and solutions provider Canam Group Inc. (CAM.TO) reported a much improved fourth quarter net income of C$3.3 million or C$0.07 per share compared to C$1 million or C$0.02 per share last year.

Grain handler Viterra (VT.TO) said it would divest its North American livestock feed operations to Hi-Pro Feeds LP.

In economic news from south of the border, the New York Empire State said its general business conditions index rose to 19.5 in February from 13.5 in January, with a positive reading indicating an increase in regional manufacturing activity. Economists had expected the index to edge up to a reading of 14.8.

Elsewhere, the euro zone economy contracted less that expected in the fourth quarter, flash estimates published by Eurostat revealed. Gross domestic product dropped 0.3 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter, after expanding 0.1 percent in the third quarter and 0.2 percent in the second quarter. But the rate of fall was slightly smaller than the expected 0.4 percent drop.

Meanwhile, the German economy dipped slightly at the end of 2011, the preliminary figures from the Federal Statistical Office showed. The gross domestic product fell 0.2 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter, following third quarter's upwardly revised 0.6 percent expansion. Economists were expecting the economy to shrink 0.3 percent.

The French statistical office Insee reported that the French economy expanded 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter compared with economists' expectation for a 0.2 percent contraction. This followed 0.3 percent growth in the third quarter.

by RTT Staff Writer

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