Canadian stocks were lingering in the red Thursday morning as traders preferred to stay on the sidelines ahead of the forthcoming Greek national elections and the OPEC meeting later today to decide on crude oil output levels, which might impact energy prices.
European stocks were lingering in the red after Moody's Investors Service downgraded Spain's credit rating by three notches to just one above junk status. Further, the rating agency downgraded the sovereign debt rating for Cyprus due to its exposure to Greece.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index eased 16.11 points or 0.14 percent to 11,481.76, after adding nearly 100 points or 1 percent in the past two sessions.
Gold stocks were under selling pressure amid flat bullion prices. The price of gold was steady above $1,600 Thursday morning as the U.S. dollar was ticking lower amid inflation report. Gold for August edged down $1.20 to $1,618.20.
Among gold stocks, Royal Gold (RGL.TO), Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) and Seabridge Gold (SEA.TO) lost around 2 percent each.
Smartphone maker Research In Motion (RIM.TO) shed 5 percent after announcing the nomination of Timothy Dattels as an independent director on its board, replacing Antonio Viana-Baptista.
Sports good manufacturer Bauer Performance Sports Ltd. (BAU.TO) eased 0.80 percent after announcing that it would acquire Cascade Helmets Holdings, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of men's and youth lacrosse helmets in North America, for about $64 million.
Energy stocks were marginally higher amid steady oil prices. The price of crude oil was ticking higher Thursday morning as traders were cautious ahead of the OPEC meeting and the weekend Greek elections. Crude for July edged up $0.21 to $82.83 a barrel.
In the oil patch, Niko Resources (NKO.TO) and Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) moved up over 2 percent each. Celtic Exploration (CLT.TO) gained close to 6 percent.
Meanwhile, Dollarama Inc. (DOL.TO) was extending gains for a second sessions, adding 2 percent. Yesterday, the company reported improved first quarter net earnings of C$42.58 million or C$0.56 per share compared to last year's C$30.42 million or C$0.40 per share. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of C$0.50 per share.
Computer hardware maker Mad Catz Interactive (MCZ.TO) gained 2 percent even after reporting a lower fourth quarter net profit of $808,000 or $0.01 per share compared to $1.49 million or $0.03 per share last year.
Broadcasting equipment manufacturer Evertz Technologies Ltd. (ET.TO) reported improved fourth-quarter net earnings of C$13.4 million or C$0.18 per share compared to C$12.3 million or C$0.16 per share in the prior year quarter. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $0.23 per share. Further, the company declared a dividend of C$0.14 per share. The stock edged up 0.25 percent.
In economic news, Statistics Canada said the New Housing Price Index continued it upward momentum in April, adding 0.2 percent after recording a 0.3 percent gain March. The metropolitan regions of Toronto and Oshawa and of Edmonton were the top contributors to the increase in April.
Separately, the agency said Canadian industries operated at 80.7 percent of their production capacity in the first quarter, up 0.2 percentage points from the previous quarter. An increase in capacity use in manufacturing was partially offset by declines in the resource and energy sectors.
From the U.S., a report from the Labor Department revealed that falling energy prices drove a larger than expected drop in consumer prices in May. The consumer price index, a measure of inflationary pressure on the economy, fell by 0.3 percent in May after remaining relatively unchanged, a 0.0 percent change, in April Most economists had expected to see consumer prices decline, but by a somewhat smaller 0.2 percent level.
Separately, the department estimated new claims at a seasonally adjusted level of 386,000 for the week ended June 09, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level of 380,000. Additionally the larger than expected increase comes atop revised figures that put the level of initial claims for the week ending June 2 at 377,000. Most economists had predicted a continuing drop in new claims for the week to 375,000.
Elsewhere, euro zone inflation slowed to a 15-month low in May as initially estimated, data from Eurostat showed. Annual inflation fell to 2.4 percent from 2.6 percent in April. Nonetheless, inflation continues to stay above the European Central Bank's 'below, but close to 2 percent' target.
Meanwhile, the Swiss National Bank decided to retain the exchange rate cap and the near-zero interest rate. The bank also noted that it "will not tolerate" further gains in the currency and is prepared to take necessary measures at any time. The central bank said it will continue to enforce the minimum exchange rate of CHF 1.20 per euro "with the utmost determination." The bank said it is prepared to buy foreign currency in unlimited quantities for this purpose.
by RTT Staff Writer
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