It was a fairly muted day of trading on North American markets, as Canada’s main stock index posted moderate losses and Wall Street indices pushed mostly higher on small gains.
The S&P/TSX composite index was down 31.79 points to 16,317.65 on Monday, in a broad-based decline that included the influential energy and materials sectors.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.87 points to 25,283.00. The S&P 500 index edged up 4.56 points to 2,747.71 and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 20.83 points to 7,157.39, both new record finishes.
“It’s a rather quiet day coming on the heels of what we saw last week, which was fairly solid employment reports, certainly in Canada and perhaps to a smaller degree in the U.S.,” said Craig Fehr, a Canadian markets strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.
A report released Friday by Statistics Canada showed the economy created 78,600 net new jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in more than 40 years. Less bullish were U.S. Labor Department figures which showed that American employers added 148,000 jobs in December — a solid gain but a bit less than experts expected.
“So while today is a rather flat day, the broader narrative for the markets is still one where economic growth should continue to fuel corporate profit growth and that’s been the legs that the market’s been standing on,” Fehr said.
However, a slew of companies are set to begin reporting their results for the last three months of 2017, with the pace picking up later this week.
“The earnings picture is the way the markets can gauge the value of the economic growth we’ve seen,” noted Fehr.
Analysts and investors will likely be more focused on what CEOs say about their expectations for future earnings. That’s because Wall Street is looking for profits to rise even higher after Washington approved cuts in corporate tax rates last month. The overhaul of the tax system may help some areas of the market more than others, and investors want to see how much companies will raise their forecasts.
In currency markets, the Canadian dollar closed at an average trading price of US80.50¢, down 0.13 a U.S. cent.
On the corporate front, shares of Loblaw Companies Ltd. fell 67¢, or 0.99%, to $67.25, as the company opened registration Monday for the $25 gift cards intended as a goodwill gesture in light of its participation in a bread price-fixing scheme. However, the grocery giant revealed a number of restrictions for redemption and eventual use of the card.
In commodities, the February crude contract added US29¢ to US$61.73 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was up US4¢ to US$2.84 per mmBTU.
The February gold contract gave back US$1.90 to US$1,320.40 an ounce and the March copper contract was down a US1¢ at US$3.22 a pound.
With a file from The Associated Press