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Canadian Stocks Are Looking For Direction - Canadian Commentary

The Canadian stock market has been fluctuating between small gains and losses since the open of trade Friday, but remains little changed overall. Traders remain in an uncertain mood due to the NAFTA trade talks.

According to reports, the United States and Mexico have been building up pressure on Canada to sign on to a new NAFTA by month's end or face exclusion from the continental trade pact. However, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reportedly made it clear that he won't be rushed into accepting a deal that's not in Canada's best interests.

The European markets have been stuck in a narrow range throughout Friday's session, but the majority are trading slightly higher. Concerns about emerging markets eased somewhat after Turkey's central bank raised its key interest rate sharply in a dramatic bid to control rocketing inflation and prevent a currency crisis.

Markets on Wall Street are nearly flat in early trade Friday. Traders are digesting a large number of U.S. economic reports this morning.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is down 1.70 points or 0.01 percent at 16,000.01.

On Thursday, the index closed down by 47.31 points or percent, at 16,001.71. The index scaled an intraday high of 16,071.24 and a low of 15,987.21.

The Capped Information Technology Index is gaining 0.69 percent. BlackBerry (BB.TO) is rising 0.60 percent and Sierra Wireless (SW.TO) is up 1.07 percent. Constellation Software (CSU.TO) is gaining 0.26 percent.

The Energy Index is rising 0.40 percent. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) is advancing 0.26 percent and Encana (ECA.TO) is climbing 0.57 percent. Husky Energy (HSE.TO) is up 0.66 percent and Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) is increasing 0.40 percent. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) is gaining 1.14 percent and Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) is adding 0.41 percent.

The Capped Industrials Index is up 0.32 percent. Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) is climbing 0.77 percent and Finning International (FTT.TO) is higher by 0.50 percent. Air Canada (AC.TO) is increasing 1.34 percent and WestJet Airlines (WJA.TO) is adding 1.22 percent.

The Capped Telecommunication Services Index is down 0.26 percent. BCE Inc. (BCE.TO) is losing 0.12 percent and TELUS (T.TO) is falling 0.41 percent. Rogers Communications (RCI-B.TO) is lower by 0.18 percent.

The Gold Index is decreasing 0.10 percent. B2Gold (BTO.TO) is surrendering 1.03 percent and IAMGOLD (IMG.TO) is weakening by 0.21 percent. Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) is falling 0.61 percent.

The Capped Materials Index is down 0.10 percent. Franco-Nevada (FNV.TO) is decreasing 0.43 percent and Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) is losing 1.03 percent. Nutrien (NTR.TO) is falling 0.86 percent.

K-Bro Linen Inc. (KBL.TO) has announced a dividend of 10.00 cents CDN per common share of the Corporation for the period from September 1 to 30, 2018. Shares are rising 0.11 percent.

Whitecap Resources Inc. (WCP.TO) has announced a cash dividend of Cdn. $0.027 per common share in respect of September operations. The stock is up 0.52 percent.

Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) is reportedly on the hunt for copper mines and projects. The company is ready to spend about $3 billion on mergers and acquisitions, its incoming chief executive officer is reported to have said in an interview on Thursday. Shares are forfeiting 0.23 percent.

On the economic front, China's industrial production and retail sales growth improved in August, while investment growth slowed down, indicating the weakness in the economic momentum.

Industrial production climbed 6.1 percent year-on-year in August, in line with expectations, but slightly faster than the 6 percent increase seen in July, data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed Friday.

Retail sales growth improved to 9 percent in August from 8.8 percent in July. The rate was expected to remain unchanged at 8.8 percent.

The euro area trade surplus declined to the lowest level in four years in July, figures from Eurostat showed Friday. The trade surplus fell to a seasonally adjusted EUR 12.76 billion from EUR 16.47 billion in June. This was the lowest since June 2014, when the surplus totaled EUR 12.22 billion.

Eurozone's hourly labor cost increased at a slightly faster pace in the second quarter, data from Eurostat showed Friday. Hourly labor cost advanced 2.2 percent from previous year following a 2.1 percent rise in the first quarter.

Partly reflecting a drop in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, the Commerce Department released a report on Friday showing retail sales in the U.S. increased by much less than expected in the month of August.

The Commerce Department said retail sales inched up by 0.1 percent in August after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.7 percent in July. Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.5 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Import prices in the U.S. fell by much more than expected in the month of August, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday.

The Labor Department said import prices dropped by 0.6 percent in August after edging down by a revised 0.1 percent in July.

Economists had expected import prices to dip by 0.2 percent compared to the unchanged reading originally reported for the previous month.

The report also said export prices slipped by 0.1 percent in August after falling by 0.5 percent in July. Export prices had been expected to come in unchanged.

A report released by the Federal Reserve on Friday showed U.S. industrial production rose by slightly more than expected in the month of August. The Fed said industrial production climbed by 0.4 percent in August, matching the upwardly revised increase in July.

Economists had expected production to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.1 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

Business inventories in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of July, the Commerce Department revealed in a report released on Friday. The Commerce Department said business inventories climbed by 0.6 percent in July after inching up by 0.1 percent in June.

In commodities, crude oil futures for October delivery are down 0.38 or 0.55 percent at $68.21 a barrel.

Natural gas for October is down 0.039 or 1.38 percent at $2.778 per million btu.

Gold futures for December are down 4.70 or 0.39 percent at $1,203.50 an ounce.

Silver for December is down 0.084 or 0.59 percent at $14.16 an ounce.

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