TSX rises in choppy trade as investors eye Ukraine conflict Bank of

TORONTO — Gold stocks helped push the Toronto stock market slightly higher Wednesday as investors continued to monitor the standoff between Russia and Ukraine.They also digested disappointing U.S. private sector employment data two days before the release of the government’s jobs report for February.The S&P/TSX composite index rose 11.48 points to 14,301.34.The Canadian currency was ahead 0.49 of a cent to 90.58 cents US amid general U.S. dollar weakness as the Bank of Canada announced it was leaving its key rate unchanged at 1%. The bank also made no changes to its neutral bias stance, meaning it believes the next policy move could equally be either a hike in rates or a cut.Also, Quebec premier Pauline Marois confirmed that Quebecers will vote in a general election, which is expected to be held on April 7.U.S. indexes were largely tepid as payroll firm ADP reported the private sector created 139,000 jobs during the month, short of the 160,000 that was expected. Economists looked for Friday’s report to show that overall, about 150,000 jobs were created last month.The Dow Jones industrials dipped 17.84 points to 16,378.04, the Nasdaq was 2.47 points higher to 4,354.44 while the S&P 500 index added 0.74 of a point to 1,874.65.It’s been a volatile week on markets, which started the week off with losses after Russian troops invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula over the weekend. Russia has key military installations there and many people are Russian speaking.But markets calmed down Tuesday after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s border to return to their bases. He also said he hopes that Russia, which does not recognize the new Ukrainian leadership, won’t need to use force in eastern Ukraine.On Wednesday, the European Union announced it is proposing to provide Ukraine an 11 billion euro aid package in loans and grants over the coming years.In earnings news, media company Torstar Corp. had $20.6 million or 26 cents a share of quarterly net income, little changed from $21.1 million a year earlier. Revenue from Torstar’s newspaper and book divisions was $366.5 million, down seven% from $395.7 million a year earlier, although the media divisions revenue was up from the third quarter and its shares jumped 41 cents or 8.13% to $5.45.Laurentian Bank of Canada had $35.5 million of net income in its fiscal first quarter, up eight% from a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were $39.3 million or $1.29 per share compared with $39.1 million or $1.30 per share last year and its shares slipped 15 cents to $46.35.The gold sector led gainers, up 0.55% while April bullion edged up 50 cents to US$1,338.40 an ounce.The base metals sector was ahead 0.4% with May copper unchanged at $3.22 a pound.The tech sector led decliners, down 0.8%.The energy sector lost 0.2% while April crude in New York declined 49 cents to US$102.84 a barrel.

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