Markets in Toronto opened higher on Thursday, after peaking for the month Wednesday. But investors are waiting for clues from major central banks on economic stimulus.
The S&P/TSX Composite index added 27.13 points in Thursday's first hour to 11,932.57
The Canadian dollar subsided 0.02 cents to 101.06 cents U.S.
Mining shares could be on investors' radar screens after Barrick Gold said it was in talks with China National Gold Group Corp over its 74% stake in U.K.-listed unit African Barrick Gold.
Activist investor Jana Partners LLC, the biggest shareholder in the fertilizer company, chastised Agrium Inc. in a private meeting on Wednesday over a recent change in how it compares its retail performance against other companies.
A high-pressure burst of natural gas at a well operated by Encana Corporation in Colorado killed one man and injured three other workers on Wednesday, the company and local authorities said.
On the economic slate, figures released this morning by Statistics Canada indicated that manufacturing sales were weaker-than-expected in June, slipping 0.4%. Market expectations were for a modest 0.3% increase in June.
Elsewhere, folks beyond our borders reduced their holdings of Canadian securities by $7.9 billion in June, after two straight months of acquisitions totaling $36.3 billion. Canadians, on the other hand, added $3.9 billion of foreign securities to their portfolios, most of it in U.S. government bonds.
The TSX Venture Exchange gained 3.49 points to 1,210.11. The Nasdaq Canada nipped ahead 0.05 points to 345.80.
All but four of the 14 Toronto subgroups gained ground as the market opened for business Thursday. Materials picked up 1%, gold was up 0.8%, and the metals and mining group advanced 0.4%.
The four laggards were hampered mostly by telecoms, off 0.5%, while health-care and real-estate slid 0.1% each.
U.S. stocks edged slightly barely above breakeven Thursday on what's expected to be another quiet trading day, as investors parsed through a mixed bag of economic data.
The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 3.71 points early Thursday to 13,161.07.
The S&P 500 gained 0.34 points to 1,405.87. The Nasdaq took on 4.74 points to 3,035.67.
Second-quarter results from Wal-Mart Stores showed that the retailer is still doing well in a sluggish economy., The company upped its forecast for the year's profits. However, both Wal-Mart and Sears Holdings, which also reported results, missed on revenue expectations. Wal-Mart's stock slid in early trading but Sears shares were higher.
Analysts don't expect any big moves in the market Thursday, with little news on tap to drive markets. Investors have taken a step back following a week-long rally that pushed all three indexes to the highest levels since early May. But trading volume remains low, and many investors aren't placing significant bets in the midst of the market's usual summer doldrums.
Cisco Systems reported a quarterly profit and sales Wednesday that rose from year-ago results and beat Wall Street's forecasts. Shares rose more than 7%.
The "lock-up period" for Facebook shares ends Thursday, meaning that company insiders will be free to sell off about 271 million shares if they so choose. Thursday marks the first in a series of lockup expirations for the company. Shares fell more than 5%.
On the economic slate, the number of people filing for first-time jobless claims for the week ended August 11 rose by 2,000 to 366,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The weekly figure came in lower than analysts' estimate of 368,000.
Housing market data also came in better than expected with housing starts up almost 22% from a year earlier, while building permits rose nearly 30% from July 2011.
Later this morning, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve will release the August edition of its regional manufacturing index, which is expected to come in at minus 5.0, up from minus 12.9 in July.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury inched up, pushing the yield down to 1.80% from Wednesday's 1.81%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for September delivery eked up 14 cents to $94.46 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for December delivery rose $2.30 to $1,608.80 U.S. an ounce.