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TSX to open slightly lower amid Hudson's Bay earnings, Fed concerns

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market looked set for a slightly lower open Wednesday amid lower commodity prices and earnings from Canada's oldest company.

Hudson’s Bay Co. (TSX:HBC) reported a larger net loss in its latest quarter, mostly due to costs related to its acquisition of U.S. retailer Saks Inc. last month. The retailer reported a net loss of $124.2 million, or $1.04 per share, compared with $14.4 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier. Ex-items, earnings were seven cents a share compared with a loss of $300,000 or zero cents per share in the third quarter of 2012.

Overall retail sales rose by 5.8 per cent.

The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.14 of a cent to 94.45 cents US.

U.S. futures were little changed as investors remained focused on whether the Federal Reserve could move as soon as next week on clawing back its stimulus.

The Dow Jones industrial futures were down six points to 15,984, the Nasdaq futures were unchanged at 3,516 and the S&P 500 futures added 0.75 of a point to 1,803.75.

There’s a growing expectation in the markets that the Fed will decide to start reducing its $85 billion worth of financial asset purchases following a run of solid economic data.

Analysts say investors appear to be holding back from big trading decisions ahead of the next central bank meeting a week from now.

An apparent budget deal in the U.S. Congress failed to have much of an impact even though it would mean another partial shutdown of the U.S. government will be avoided. Most interest rests on the U.S. debt ceiling, which has to be raised early next year to avoid a debt default.

In other corporate developments, natural gas giant Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) plans to increase its production of natural gas liquids by 30 per cent next year, as it focuses on growing spending in five resource areas across North America.

Encana does not expect its forecasted production levels to change from last year, even though it plans on cutting its capital investment by 10 per cent.

Last month, it announced it was slashing its workforce by 20 per cent, cutting its dividend and spinning off a large chunk of its Alberta land holdings into a new public company.

On the commodity markets, January crude slipped 12 cents to US$98.39 a barrel.

March copper was unchanged at US$3.27 a pound while February bullion dipped $6.60 to US$1,254.50 an ounce.

European bourses advanced with London's FTSE 100 index ahead 0.4 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX gained 0.36 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 was up 0.8 per cent.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed down 0.6 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng tumbled 1.7 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite shed 1.5 per cent.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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