TSX set to advance, traders look to Fed for clarity on winding down stimulus | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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TSX set to advance, traders look to Fed for clarity on winding down stimulus

December 18, 2013 - 5:30 AM

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market was set for a positive open Wednesday with traders anxious to see what the Federal Reserve has to say about cutting back on its asset purchases.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.26 of a cent to 93.99 cents US as the greenback strengthened ahead of an afternoon announcement from the Fed at the conclusion of its two-day meeting on interest rates.

U.S. futures advanced with the Dow Jones industrial futures up 36 points to 15,846, the Nasdaq rising 4.5 points to 3,465.3 and the S&P 500 futures climbing 3.25 points to 1,776.25.

Speculation has grown recently that a recent series of strong economic data may persuade the Fed to use this meeting to announce it is cutting back on its monthly US$85 billion of bond purchases. Those purchases have kept long term rates low and encouraged investors to put their money into the stock market, which has in turn supported a strong rally on markets this year.

"Our economists are calling taper at this meeting a 50/50 decision," said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Michael Gregory in a commentary.

Gregory said one of the best arguments for tapering now is that the Fed's objective of quantitative easing when launched in September, 2012, was to reduce unemployment, which at that time stood at 8.1 per cent.

"But now, based off of November data, unemployment stands at seven per cent. Furthermore, three of the last four jobs readings have been north of 200,000. This is the perfect time to celebrate (outgoing chairman Ben) Bernanke's achievement and declare 'mission accomplished'!"

The Fed makes its announcement at 2 p.m. EST, followed by a news conference by Bernanke at 2:30 p.m.

On the corporate front, a federal-review-panel report on Enbridge’s (TSX:ENB) proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would link the Alberta oil sands with a tanker port on the B.C. coast will be released Thursday following more than a year of hearings. The highly anticipated report on the controversial project will include the panel’s recommendations for the project but the final decision on whether the pipeline can go ahead rests with the federal government.

Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO) has applied for regulatory approval to build a new oilsands project northeast of Fort McMurray, Alta., which would cost an estimated $7 billion. Imperial expects to build its Aspen project in three, 45,000-barrel-per-day phases. The first phase of Imperial’s $12.9-billion Kearl oilsands mine north of Fort McMurray started up earlier this year.

Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) said that former American Airlines chief executive Donald Carty and Signalta Capital president Robert Franklin have resigned from the company’s board of directors. Barrick has been working to revamp and improve its corporate governance. Earlier this month, Barrick announced that founder and co-chairman Peter Munk would retire and that two other long-time directors, Howard Beck and former prime minister Brian Mulroney, would not stand for re-election.

BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB) has appointed a 20-year veteran of the mobile telecommunications industry as president of its Global Enterprise Services as the struggling smartphone company focuses on its business customers. John Sims is joining BlackBerry in January from SAP, where he served as president of the business software company’s mobile services business.

In the U.S., FedEx Corp. posted net income that was 14 per cent higher than a year earlier, when superstorm Sandy hurt business. However, the second-quarter profit of $1.57 per share was lower than the $1.64 per share expected by analysts. Revenue rose three per cent to $11.4 billion, about what analysts were expecting.

FedEx raised its full-year profit outlook slightly and its shares declined one per cent in pre-market trading in New York.

European bourses were higher as London's FTSE 100 index rose 0.25 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX gained 0.9 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 index was ahead 0.75 per cent.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed two per cent higher, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 0.3 per cent, China’s Shanghai Composite index edged down 0.1 per cent and South Korea’s Kospi finished 0.5 per cent higher.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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