Toronto stock market set for lower open, traders look to U.S. economic data | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Toronto stock market set for lower open, traders look to U.S. economic data

December 31, 2013 - 5:32 AM

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market looked set for a lower start to the session as investors prepare to close the books on 2013 trading.

The Canadian dollar edged up 0.02 of a cent to 94 cents US.

U.S. futures were slightly higher ahead of readings on home prices, consumer confidence and a key manufacturing index for the American Midwest.

The Dow Jones industrial futures gained 17 points to 16,456, the Nasdaq futures climbed 3.7 points to 3,569.5 while the S&P 500 futures added 1.75 points to 1,836.5.

On the commodity markets, the February crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange declined 56 cents to US$98.73 a barrel.

Gold prices lost ground with the February contract on the Nymex down $4.30 to US$1,199.50 an ounce. March copper was unchanged at US$3.38 a pound.

Based on Monday's close, the TSX would end 2013 trading with a solid gain of 9.25 per cent. Most sectors were positive with financials up 22 per cent for the year. Insurers have been particularly strong performers as companies benefitted from strong stock market gains and rising bond yields.

Industrials had good year, up about 35 per cent as railroad stocks shot ahead, helped along in large part by rising shipments of crude oil. Fresh questions about rail transport safety for crude will be asked after after a 1.6-kilometre-long train carrying crude oil derailed outside of the town of Casselton, North Dakota Monday. BNSF Railway Co. said it believes about 20 cars caught fire after its oil train left the tracks about 2:10 p.m. Monday. The sheriff’s office said it thinks 10 cars were on fire.

No one was hurt.

The consumer discretion sector jumped almost 40 per cent. Many stocks almost doubled over the past 52 weeks, including auto parts makers Magna International (TSX:MG), Linamar Corp. (TSX:LNR) and Martinrea International (TSX:MRE).

TSX gains would have been greater if not for deep losses in the mining sectors. The gold sector is down almost 50 per cent for the year while the metal has fallen about 28 per cent.

Gold prices have taken a big hit this year as the global economy gradually improved and the U.S. Federal Reserve made moves to cut back on a key area of stimulus, its monthly bond purchases.

In addition to the big losses in gold, the base metals component has retreated 22 per cent as an uneven global recovery kept the lid on commodity prices.

In sharp contrast, the Dow industrials has plowed ahead 26 per cent.

In corporate news, the London Underground transit system is looking for a new contractor to take on a signalling upgrade for four lines, replacing Bombardier Transportation. Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) announced Tuesday that the two companies had reached a joint release agreement. Media reports in the U.K. said Bombardier’s signalling system had proved to be incompatible with the complex infrastructure of the four lines.

Overseas, London's FTSE 100 index was up 0.26 per cent, leaving the U.K. index up a bit over 14 per cent. The Paris CAC 40 was up 0.47 per cent for a gain of about 19 per cent this year. Frankfurt's DAX was closed Tuesday having shot up 26 per cent this year.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.3 per cent. Shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen also closed higher.

Markets were closed in Japan and other Asian markets for the New Year holiday.

The Tokyo benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.7 per cent Monday to end 2013 at its highest level in more than six years, having gained 56.7 per cent in 2013, the biggest annual gain in 41 years.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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