The Toronto stock market was flat Wednesday with the U.S. Federal Reserve in focus.
The S&P/TSX Composite index dropped 0.11 points to end Wednesday at 12,009.79, as traders digested the release of the central bank's latest survey of regional economic conditions while awaiting a key speech by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday.
The Canadian dollar backtracked 0.14 cents to 101.06 cents U.S.
Financials led gainers a day after Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank delivered quarterly earnings reports which beat expectations. Royal Bank, CIBC, TD Bank, National Bank post earnings results Thursday. Royal Bank gained 43 cents to $54.60.
The base metals sector eased as copper prices also declined, down for a fourth session as September copper dropped two cents to $3.45 U.S. a pound. Teck Resources shed five cents to $28.49.
Utilities were also weak with TransAlta Corp. down 44 cents to $15.41.
The energy sector pulled back and Canadian Natural Resources shed 14 cents to $30.37.
The gold sector was off as Barrick Gold Corp. lost 59 cents to $36.72.
In corporate news, oil and gas producer Calgary-based Fairborne Energy Ltd. is selling dry natural gas assets for a total of $189 million. Fairborne said depressed natural gas prices and volatility in capital markets have challenged its ability to fund growth. Its shares were down 16 cents at $1.33.
Gildan Activewear Inc. chief executive Glenn Chamandy could earn more than $85 million after deciding to selling up to 28% of his 9.8 million shares in the apparel company. The company founder will remain one of its largest shareholders with a 5.7% stake once 2.75 million shares are sold in a period that will range up to 24 months. On Wednesday, Gildan shares were down 66 cents to $30.75.
On the economic slate, Statistics Canada reports that the Industrial Product Price Index was down 0.5% in July compared with June, due mostly to chemical products and motor vehicles and other transportation equipment.
The agency's Raw Materials Price Index rose 0.9%, because of higher prices for mineral fuels and vegetable products.
The TSX Venture Exchange fell 12.72 points to 1,229.18. The Nasdaq Canada erased 3.04 points to 344.84
Nine of the 14 Toronto subgroups were negative on the day. Metals and mining and gold slumped 1% each, while energy stocks fell 0.7%.
The four gainers were led by telecoms, up 1.1%, and financials, ahead 0.8%, and consumer staples, nosing up 0.08%.
Information technology stocks were flat on the day.
Stocks held onto modest Wednesday afternoon, after the Federal Reserve's latest report showed regional economic activity gradually expanded in July and early August.
The Dow Jones industrial average crept higher 4.49 points to close at 13,107.50
The S&P 500 index moved higher 1.20 points to 1,401.50, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was higher by 4.04 points to 3,081.19.
Shares of H.J. Heinz faltered after the ketchup maker reported sales that missed forecasts, though growth in emerging markets helped lift earnings higher.
Yelp shares spiked up about 19%. The post-IPO lockup period for the customer reviews and recommendations website expired, freeing up more than 52 million Class B shares.
Shares of Angie's List rose 12% after Oppenheimer upgraded the online review site's stock to outperform from perform.
Jos A. Bank Clothiers Inc reported better-than-expected earnings and shares rose 16% after the clothing company announced it would also expand the chain to 800 stores nationwide.
Sealed Air Corp was one of the biggest gainers on the S&P 500. Shares of the company jumped more than 9% after Sealed Air announced a new CEO and succession plan.
WellPoint shares climbed about 8% after the health insurer announced its CEO would resign.
Pandora and TiVo will release their earnings after the bell. Pandora is expected to report a loss of three cents U.S. a share on $101 million U.S. in revenue, while TiVo is expected to post a loss of 24 cents U.S. a share on $54 million U.S. in revenue.
Meanwhile, oil prices continue to hover near $95 U.S. a barrel, as Hurricane Isaac curtailed oil production along the Gulf of Mexico. But gas prices jumped up 4.8 cents to $3.804 U.S. on Wednesday, according to motorist group the American Automobile Association. Gas prices are now up nearly 9% in August and at their highest level since early May.
Economically speaking, the August edition of the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report, a regional snapshot of economic conditions suggested that economic activity has grown across most regions and sectors, including retail.
The report from the National Association of Realtors showed pending home sales at their highest level in two years.
However, the GDP revision, while better than expected at 1.7%, was still weak. And pending home sales are just that: pending.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell a bit pushing the yield up to 1.66% from 1.63% late Tuesday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices for September delivery dove $1.36 to $94.97 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for December delivery fell $6.70 to $1,663.00 U.S. an ounce.