Economy & Markets

U.S. markets finish mixed

By Linda Nguyen |
Source: The Canadian Press

Canada's main stock market eked out a small gain to close at a record high Thursday for the fifth day in a row, as a number of corporate heavyweights reported their latest round of earnings results.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index climbed 19.22 points at 15,864.17 — with gold, real estate and utilities stocks racking up the biggest gains. It's the eighth straight session where the index, which is weighted heavily in commodities, has finished ahead.

Although the overall market gain was not abundant, individual stocks chalked up notable moves into the upside and downside, said Cynthia Caskey, a portfolio manager and vice-president at TD Wealth.

"While it looks relatively calm and not a lot is happening on the surface, it really is a market of stocks today. There is lots of earnings news, lots of company specific updates," she said.

"Frankly, what is really interesting to me is that some of the big bellwether Canadian stocks are moving five and 6% in one day alone. That's a very rare occurrence."

One of those stocks is retailer Canadian Tire, which came out as one of the session's biggest winners, gaining more than 6% after the company reported solid quarterly and year-end results.

The merchandiser, well known for automotive and sporting goods, saw sales at its banner stores rise 9.6% in the three-month period ending Dec. 31. Sales at FGL Sports, which includes Sport Chek, and Mark's clothing chain were also ahead compared with the same quarter in 2015. Canadian Tire shares finished $9.94 higher at $154.51 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, shares in mining heavyweights, Barrick Gold Corp. and Goldcorp Inc. also finished 6.05% and 5.86% higher, respectively, on strong earnings results. Barrick's stock closed up $1.53 to $26.81, while Goldcorp shares advanced $1.28 at $23.11.

In other corporate news, media and telecommunications giant Quebecor Inc. announced that Pierre Karl Peladeau was returning to the top job as president and chief executive.

Peladeau, whose family founded the company, stepped down from the top job at the telecom in 2013 for a short-lived political career as PQ leader but resigned from politics last year. Investors seemed surprised by the move as shares in Quebecor fell 1.61%, or 63¢, to $38.41.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average also finished at an all-time high, adding 7.91 points at 20,619.77 points. The broader S&P 500 was down 2.03 points at 2,347.22 and the Nasdaq composite fell 4.54 points at 5,814.90.

North American stock markets have enjoyed a record-setting run since U.S. President Donald Trump was elected in November, driven by optimism in the past few weeks that he will push through lower taxes for businesses, loosen regulations and adopt more business-friendly policies.

Caskey said it's a breath of fresh air to see that investors still put weight in corporate earnings.

"Fundamentals still matter, and investors are paying attention to fundamentals," she said.

In currencies, the Canadian dollar was barely changed, dipping 0.03 of a U.S. cent to US76.45¢.

The March crude contract added US25¢ to US$53.36 per barrel, while the April contract, which was trading at a higher volume, was up US15¢ at US$53.75 per barrel.

April gold advanced US$8.50 at US$1,241.60 an ounce, March natural gas contract was down US7¢ at US$2.85 per mmBTU, and March copper lost US2¢ at US$2.72 a pound.