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Canadian Stocks Are Struggling To Find Direction - Canadian Commentary

The Canadian stock market has been fluctuating between small gains and losses since the open of trade Thursday, but remains little changed overall. Investors remain in a cautious mood after the wild swings in global equity markets earlier this week. Energy stocks are notably higher this morning, despite a pullback in crude oil prices.

Markets in Europe have turned lower again Thursday, after snapping a 7-session losing streak yesterday. The Bank of England decided to stand pat on rates today as widely expected, but hinted at somewhat earlier and deeper-than-expected rate hikes.

Markets on Wall Street are dipping in early trade Thursday, extending their losses from the previous session.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is down 17.13 points or 0.11 percent at 15,313.45.

On Wednesday, the index closed down 33.35 points or 0.22 percent, at 15,330.58. The index scaled an intraday high of 15,421.15 and a low of 15,325.70.

The Energy Index is rising 0.98 percent. Crude oil prices have slipped near $61 a barrel Thursday morning, having dropped from a 4-year peak near $66.

Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) is gaining 0.08 percent and Husky Energy (HSE.TO) is climbing 0.35 percent. Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) is advancing 1.91 percent and Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) is rising 0.76 percent. Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) is up 0.08 percent and Enbridge (ENB.TO) is adding 0.02 percent. Encana (ECA.TO) is increasing 1.15 percent.

Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.TO) is gaining 2.38 percent after it reported fourth-quarter operating earnings of C$1.310 billion or C$0.79 per share compared to C$636 million or C$0.38 per share in the prior year quarter. The oil company also raised its dividend 12%.

The Capped Telecommunication Services Index is up 0.72 percent. BCE (BCE.TO) is climbing 2.01 percent after it added 175,000 postpaid wireless customers on a net basis in the fourth quarter, up sharply from last year.

TELUS Corporation (T.TO) is up 0.29 percent after it said its bottom line came in at C$328 million, or C$0.55 per share. This was up from C$316 million, or C$0.53 per share, in last year's fourth quarter.

The Capped Information Technology Index is gaining 0.61 percent. BlackBerry (BB.TO) is advancing 1.08 percent and Constellation Software (CSU.TO) is climbing 0.45 1.87 percent. Sierra Wireless (SW.TO) is higher by 0.92 percent.

The Gold Index is increasing 0.21 percent. Gold prices are little changed Thursday morning, hovering around $1315 an ounce.

Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) is gaining 0.51 percent and Kinross Gold (K.TO) is climbing 0.81 percent. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) is up 0.36 percent and IAMGOLD (IMG.TO) is increasing 1.20 percent. Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO) is rising 3 percent and B2Gold (BTO.TO) is adding 0.43 percent.

The Capped Healthcare Index is lower by 0.72 percent. ProMetic Life Sciences (PLI.TO) is weakening by 2.61 percent.

The heavyweight Financial Index is decreasing 0.39 percent. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) is weakening by 0.90 percent percent and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) is down 0.77 percent. National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) is losing 0.69 percent and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) is lower by 0.69 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) is decreasing 0.55 percent and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) is falling 0.15 percent.

The Capped Materials Index is down 0.42 percent. Franco-Nevada (FNV.TO) is declining 0.35 percent and Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) is falling 0.29 percent. Nutrien (NTR.TO) is decreasing 2.52 percent.

The Capped Industrials Index is down 0.36 percent. Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO) is falling 0.97 percent and Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) is declining 1 percent. WestJet Airlines (WJA.TO) is losing 0.90 percent and Bombardier (BBD-B.TO) is surrendering 0.31 percent. Finning International (FTT.TO) is declining 1.14 percent.

Thomson Reuters Corporation (TRI.TO) is losing 1.33 percent after it said earnings climbed to $428 million, or $0.60 per share. This was up from $228 million, or $0.31 per share, in last year's fourth quarter.

Canada Goose (GOOS.TO) is sinking 16.62 percent, despite beating profit estimates.

On the economic front, China's exports grew more-than-expected on global demand at the start of the year, and imports surged as factories lifted stocks ahead of the holidays, data from the General Administration of Customs revealed Thursday.

In dollar terms, exports advanced 11.1 percent year-over-year in January, faster than the 10.7 percent rise economists had forecast and a 10.9 percent rise posted in December.

Imports surged 36.9 percent in January from a year ago, well above the expected growth of 10.6 percent.

Due to higher imports, the trade surplus fell to $20.34 billion in January, which was well below the expected level of $54.65 billion.

Germany's exports and imports increased unexpectedly in December, figures from Destatis revealed Thursday.

Exports rose 0.3 percent month-on-month in December, slower than the 4.1 percent increase seen in November. However, shipments were expected to fall 1 percent.

Similarly, monthly growth in imports eased to 1.4 percent from 2.2 percent in November. Economists had forecast a 0.8 percent drop for December.

As imports growth exceeded the rise in exports, the trade surplus fell to a seasonally adjusted EUR 21.4 billion from EUR 22.3 billion a month ago.

UK house price balance remained stable in January and buyer enquiries continued to fall, data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed Thursday. The house price balance remained at 8 percent in January, while it was forecast to drop to 5 percent.

In commodities, crude oil futures for March delivery are down 0.49 or 0.79 percent at $61.30 a barrel.

Natural gas for March is up 0.031 or 1.15 percent at $2.733 per million btu.

Gold futures for April are up 1.30 or 0.10 percent at $1,315.90 an ounce.

Silver for March is up 0.097 or 0.60 percent at $16.335 an ounce.

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