Stocks Push Upward to Start Friday
Linamar in Focus
Canada's main stock index struggled its way to slight gains in the first hour of trade on Friday, despite being initially weighed by weakness in material stocks and downbeat sentiment on Wall Street.
The S&P/TSX Composite eked 2.05 points to open the week's last session at 21,295.01.
The Canadian dollar handed back 0.11 cents to 79.83 cents U.S.
Scotiabank raised the target price on Aritzia to $65.00 from $49.00. Aritzia shares galloped $1.61, or 2.7%, to $60.48.
Scotiabank also raised the target price on Linamar to $105.00 from $100.00. Linamar shares gained 71 cents to $80.78.
Finally, Scotiabank initiated coverage on Softchoice with a sector perform rating. Softchoice shares backpedaled 57 cents, or 2.7%, to $20.64.
On the economic front, national home sales activity decreased by 9.9% from year-ago levels in December, according to figures released Friday by the Canadian Real Estate Association.
The International Energy Agency says Canada, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, can be a key global supplier for years to come providing it sticks to promises to sharply cut emissions.
The TSX Venture Exchange dropped 4.21 points to 902.83.
Seven of the 12 TSX subgroups were lower, as real-estate and consumer discretionary shares each shed 0.4%, and industrials lost 0.3%.
The five gainers were led by energy, up 1.2%, health-care, ahead 0.7%, and information technology, better by 0.4%.
U.S. stocks struggled for direction on Friday morning as weakness in bank stocks was balanced out by gains for tech and energy names.
The Dow Jones Industrials plummeted 184.7 points to 35,928.92
The S&P 500 shed 4.86 points to 4,654.17
The NASDAQ Composite regained 41.07 points to 14,847.88.
Bank stocks, which had outperformed in recent weeks as interest rates moved higher, were split in early trading as their reports appeared to underwhelm investors despite strong headline numbers.
JPMorgan Chase, the number-one U.S. bank by assets, showed profit and revenue that topped estimates, but shares fell 5%. The company's earnings were helped by a large credit reserve release, and CFO Jeremy Barnum warned that the company would likely miss a key profit target in the next two years.
Citigroup's stock fell nearly 3% after the bank beat revenue estimates but showed a 26% decline in profits.
Meanwhile, shares of Wells Fargo added 1% after the bank's revenue topped expectations. CEO Charles Scharf said in a release that loan demand picked up in the second half of the year.
On the data front, retail sales were down 1.9% in December, a worse reading than the 0.1% drop expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones. Industrial production also disappointed, declining 0.1% compared to a projected 0.2% gain.
In other data news, business inventories for November came in higher than expected, but January's consumer sentiment reading from the University of Michigan came in lower than expected.
Prices for 10-year Treasurys faded, raising yields to 1.76% from Thursday's 1.70%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices surged 89 cents to $83.01 U.S. a barrel.
Gold prices gained $3.30 to $1,824.70 U.S. an ounce.
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