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TSX heads for higher open as traders eye Ukraine crisis, disappointing jobs data

A tote board TSX numbers in Toronto, on Dec.31, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market headed for a slightly higher open Wednesday as investors continued to monitor the standoff between Russia and Ukraine.

They also digested data showing the eurozone started 2014 in better economic shape than thought.

The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.28 of a cent to 90.37 cents US ahead of a highly anticipated election call by Quebec's minority, pro-independence PQ government, along with the next interest rate announcement by the Bank of Canada.

U.S. futures were off the best levels of the morning amid private sector jobs data out two days before the release of the U.S. government's report for February. Payroll firm ADP reported the private sector created 139,000 jobs during the month, short of the 160,000 that was expected.

The Dow Jones industrial futures gained eight points to 16,389, the Nasdaq futures were up four points to 3,720.8 while the S&P 500 futures rose 1.5 points to 1,873.

Markets 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.

Meanwhile, figures released Wednesday suggest eurozone growth is accelerating, at least in the period before the crisis in Ukraine escalated.

A survey from financial information company Markit suggested that economic growth in the eurozone accelerated to a 32-month high in February, largely on the back of the services sector and strong growth in Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

In earnings news, media company Torstar Corp. (TSX:TS.B) 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 per cent from $395.7 million a year earlier, although the media divisions revenue was up from the third quarter.

On the commodity markets, April crude in New York declined 30 cents to US$103.03 a barrel.

May copper was unchanged at $3.22 a pound while April bullion dipped $2 to US$1,335.90 an ounce.

European bourses were lower with London's FTSE 100 index off 0.44 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX was down 0.2 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 dipped 0.09 per cent.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 advanced 1.2 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.3 per cent.

Traders are also focusing on the National People’s Congress in China. The country’s leaders pledged Wednesday to promote sustainable growth by opening state-dominated industries to private investment and making banks more market-oriented while keeping this year’s economic expansion at a relatively robust 7.5 per cent.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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