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TSX Flat Amid Cautious Trade - Canadian Commentary


Canadian stocks were lingering in the red Friday morning, with traders turning cautious as a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of Twenty (G20) nations commenced in Moscow. The two-day meeting attended by finance ministers and central bank chiefs will put forth currency exchange rate issues for discussion. Also, weak commodities weighed on the resource-heavy main index.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index shed 19.03 points or 0.15 percent to 12,702.76 after losing about 0.50 percent in the past two sessions.

The price of gold was extending its six-month low Friday morning, with the euro trading weak as traders await cues from the G20 meeting. Gold fort April lost $33.10 to $1,602.40 an ounce.

Among gold plays, Goldcorp. (G.TO) shed nearly 3 percent even after reporting improved fourth-quarter net earnings of $504 million, or $0.47 per share compared to $405 million or $0.39 per share in the same period a year ago. Adjusted net earnings were $465 million or $0.57 per share compared to $531 million, or $0.66 per share. Analysts expected the company to report earnings of $0.54 per share for the quarter.

Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) lost nearly 6 percent, while Allied Nevada Gold (ANV.TO) was surrendering over 4 percent.

The price of crude oil was paring recent gains Friday morning as traders focus to the G20 meeting, which is expected to address the so called 'currency wars'. Crude for March delivery shed $1.90 to $95.41 a barrel.

In the oil patch, Baytex Energy Corp. (BTE.TO) and Trilogy Energy (TET.TO) lost about 3 percent each.

Wood products company, West Fraser Timber (WFT.TO) shed nearly 3 percent despite reporting improved fourth-quarter profit at C$22.9 million or C$0.51 per share compared to C$6.0 million or C$0.14 per share in the year-ago quarter. Excluding items, adjusted earnings from continuing operations for the quarter were C$1.25 per share, compared to an adjusted loss from continuing operations of C$0.35 million. Analysts expected the company to earn C$1.15 per share for the quarter.

Forest products company Canfor Corp. (CFP.TO) swung to profit in fourth-quarter, reporting net income of C$21.6 million or C$0.15 per share compared to net loss of C$44.1 million or C$0.31 per share in the comparable quarter last year. However, the stock lost 5 percent

Meanwhile, communications and media company Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI.TO) gained about 3 percent after posting fourth quarter net income of C$529 million, higher than C$327 million last year, while quarterly earnings per share rose to C$1.02, from C$0.61 a year ago. On an adjusted basis, net income improved to C$455 million or C$0.88 per share from the prior year's C$350 million or C$0.66 per share. Analysts expected earnings per share of C$0.72 for the quarter. Separately, the company announced a 10 percent increase to the annualized dividend rate from C$1.58 to C$1.74 per Class A Voting and Class B Non-Voting share.

Crude oil pipeline operator Enbridge Inc. ( ENB.TO) edged up 0.50 percent even after reporting lower fourth-quarter net earnings of C$146 million or C$0.18 per share compared to C$159 million or C$0.21 per share a year ago. However, on an adjusted basis, quarterly earnings totaled C$327 million or C$0.42 per share. Analysts expected earnings per share of C$0.44 for the quarter.

Property owner Brookfield Asset Management, Inc. (BAM_A.TO) rose nearly 1 percent after posting a rise in fourth-quarter 2012 funds from operations to $459 million or $0.67 per share from $397 million or $0.58 per share last year, while net income attributable to Brookfield shareholders dropped to $492 million or $0.72 per share from last year's $588 million, or $0.90 per share.

Insurance services provider Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH.TO) gained 2 percent after reporting that its fourth-quarter net earnings was $404.1 million or $18.90 per share compared to a net loss of $771.5 million or $38.47 per share in the year ago quarter.

Wealth management and investment fund company CI Financial Corp. (CIX.TO) reported fourth-quarter earnings of C$0.34 per share, up from C$0.31 per share in the same period last year. Analysts expected the company to earn $0.34 per share for the quarter. The stock inched up 0.10 percent.

In economic news, Statistics Canada said merchandise imports fell 2.8 percent in December and merchandise exports declined 0.9 percent. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world decreased from $1.7 billion in November to $901 million in December.

From the U.S., the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said its general business conditions index jumped to a positive 10.0 in February from a negative 7.8 in January, with a positive reading indicating an increase in regional manufacturing activity. Economists had expected the index to climb to a negative 1.8.

Elsewhere, euro zone's trade surplus declined in December from a month earlier, the latest figures published by Eurostat revealed. The surplus fell to EUR 11.7 billion in December from a revised EUR 13 billion in the previous month. Economists expected the surplus to fall to EUR 13.1 billion from November's originally estimated EUR 13.7 billion.

U.K. retail sales including auto fuel fell unexpectedly by 0.6 percent in January from the prior month, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists had forecast a 0.5 percent rise, following a 0.3 percent drop in December.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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