Thursday, March 27, 2014

TSX down on U.S. data, Ukraine news

Canada's main stock index had erased earlier gains midday Wednesday, even as bullish U.S. economic data and an easing of tensions over Ukraine helped support sentiment.

The S&P/TSX composite index approached noon down 17.39 points at 14,282.10

The Canadian dollar grew 0.28 cents at 89.81 cents U.S.

Financials rose with Royal Bank of Canada advancing 0.4% to $72.99.

Energy shares, which received a boost from higher U.S. crude oil prices, were unchanged, even as Canadian Natural Resources rose 0.4% to $41.89, and Enbridge Inc added 0.5% to $50.03.

A decline in the materials sector, which includes mining stocks, helped limit the index's gains. Goldcorp shed 2.5% to $27.78.

Turquoise Hill dropped 2.9% to $3.71, after technical problems hurt first-quarter production at the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia. Turquoise Hill owns a majority interest in Oyu Tolgoi and is controlled by Rio Tinto

In other corporate news, Pembina Pipeline jumped as much as 4.6%, hitting a 52-week high.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange slid 5.25 points to 1,013.01

In all, nine of the 14 Toronto subgroups were lower by noon ET, as gold shed 2.3%, metals and mining tanked 1.5%, and materials were 1.4% lower.

The four gainers were led by consumer discretionaries, up 0.6%, telecoms, hiking 0.5%, and financials, forging ahead 0.2%. Energy stocks were flat by midday.

ON WALLSTREET

With little economic news to set the tone, investors focused on a number of big technology firms that were making waves early Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average remained positive 16.89 points to 16,384.77. The S&P 500 index was up 2.81 points to 1,868.43. The NASDAQ turned negative 10.59 points to 4,223.68

King Digital Entertainment priced its shares late Tuesday at $22.50 U.S. a share in a deal that raised $500 million U.S. for the Irish company. But the stock was trading under $20 a share in the morning amid concerns about the company's ability to build on the success of its one blockbuster game.

Facebook shares edged higher at the start of trading after the company announced a $2-billion U.S. acquisition of virtual reality firm Oculus VR late Tuesday, but they are now trading down about 2%. Oculus makes a headset for "immersive gaming" that Facebook plans to develop in to a communications and education platform.

In what appears to be a case of mistaken identity, investors drove up shares of companies that have similar names to Oculus VR, but are in no way related to the privately-held company that Facebook bought.

Shares of drug maker Oculus Innovative Sciences gained more than 9%. The even more aptly named Oculus VisionTech, which specializes in digital watermarking, also appears to be benefiting from its name. It's normally a thinly-traded over the counter stock, but it surged more than 80% before trading was halted.

But there was at least one stock on the move Wednesday that had a more tangible connection to Facebook's bet on virtual reality. Shares of Himax Technologies, a Taiwan-based company that makes components used in so-called wearable technology, were up 3%.

Sony, which recently unveiled a similar virtual reality headset for its PlayStation gaming system, did not participate in the rally. Its shares were up, but less than 2%.

In other tech news, International Game Technology didn't have the luckiest morning. Shares fell after the company, which makes casino games such as slot machines, said it is planning to cut 7% of its staff and lowered its earnings guidance for the year. The stock has lost 18% so far this year.

Economically speaking, data showed a rebound in orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods in February, with shipments showing strength after two straight months of declines.

Prices for 10-year U.S. Treasuries gained, lowering yields to 2.72% from Tuesday’s 2.74%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices picked up 35 cents to $99.54 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices ditched $7.40 to $1,304 U.S. an ounce.

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