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TSX In Doldrums After BoC Acts -- Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks inched lower for a second conseuctive, as concerns about the pace of upcoming interest rate hikes outweighed rising oil prices.

WTI light sweet crude oil were up for a fourth day, touching $46 a barrel in a move that could spark prolonged rally in energy stocks.

However, markets are in a cautious mood after yesterday's hawkish talk from the Bank of Canada.

The central bank raised its benchmark rate to 0.75 percent from 0.5 percent, and said future rate hikes will be "guided" by the incoming economic data.

"Governing Council judges that the current outlook warrants today's withdrawal of some of the monetary policy stimulus in the economy. Future adjustments to the target for the overnight rate will be guided by incoming data as they inform the bank's inflation outlook, keeping in mind continued uncertainty and financial system vulnerabilities," the bank said in its statement.

The IMF has since warned the BoC against raising rates too quickly.

"The main risk on the domestic side is a sharp correction in the housing market that impairs bank balance sheets, triggers negative feedback loops in the economy, and increases contingent claims on the government," the IMF wrote.

The TSX Composite was down 9 points to 15,135.

Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) is exploring a possible initial public offering or spinoff of its John Hancock Financial Services Inc., Wall Street Journal reports. Shares rose 1.9 percent.

Sears Canada Inc (SCC.TO) majority shareholders including Edward Lampert, ESL Investments Inc and Fairholme Capital Management LLC are "seeking access to internal documents related to its restructuring," according to Reuters.

The company has struck a deal with employees over benefits and pensions.

Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO) has hired investment banks to sell the Weyburn and Palliser oil assets in hopes of getting $2.5 billion, Reuters also reports. Shares were up more than 1 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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