Dip for stocks at outset

Canadian stock indexes pointed lower at the start of trade Tuesday with the uncertainty surrounding U.S. budget talks hurting investor sentiment.

The S&P/TSX index began Tuesday down 9.73 points to 12,162.24

The Canadian dollar was up 0.22 of a cent to 100.72 cents U.S., following the announcement by the Bank of Canada to leave its trendsetting rate at 1%, with an eye to keeping it there for the balance of the year. It's the 18th straight meeting at which the rate was kept where it was.

Traders also took in quarter and annual earnings from Bank of Montreal which beat estimates.

BMO had a fourth-quarter profit of $1.08 billion, up 41% from a year ago.

The bank's adjusted earnings amounted to $1.65 per share, beating estimates by 22 cents a share. The quarter brought Bank of Montreal's total net income for the 2012 financial year to $4.19 billion, up 35% from last year. BMO shares got 39 cents worth of lift to $59.68 each.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said it expects to produce more crude oil and natural gas liquids next year, and plans to raise its capital budget by nearly 10%. Canadian Natural Resources shares began the day down 48 cents to $27.71.

Suncor Energy Inc. said on Monday it will spend $7.3 billion in 2013, up 9% from this year's reduced amount, with most of the budget directed at expanding its leading oil sands production. Suncor stock lost a nickel each to $32.27.


The TSX Venture Exchange subtracted 7.50 points to 1,201.57

The 14 Toronto subgroups were evenly divided between gainers and losers. Global base metals powered up 0.8%, while materials gained 0.5%, and the metals and mining was 0.4% to the good.

The seven laggards were weighed mostly by telecoms, down 0.6%, energy, sliding 0.5%, and utilities, off 0.3%.


U.S. stocks opened mixed, as uncertainty over the ongoing political wrangling put investors on edge.

The Dow Jones Industrials was up 24.97 points early Tuesday to 12,990.60

The S&P 500 nipped 2.09 points to 1,411.55 and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 9.73 points to 2,992.47

President Obama outlined a proposal last week that called for $1.6 trillion U.S. in new taxes, among other things. Republicans issued a counter-proposal Monday that included tax reforms, changes to Medicare and other spending cuts worth $2.2 trillion U.S. over the next decade.

That plan was quickly dismissed by the White House, and the apparent deadlock is likely to set the tone for markets.

In corporate news, shares of Big Lots jumped after the discount retailer posted a narrower loss than analysts had been expecting.
Home builder Toll Brothers reported fourth quarter revenue that topped forecasts, sending shares higher.

MetroPCS shares slipped following reports that Sprint is not likely to make a counter offer to acquire the wireless carrier.

Shares of Pandora were higher as investors geared up for the music streaming service's earnings release after the closing bell.

After the market closed Monday, Oracle announced plans to make its second, third and fourth quarter dividend payments for fiscal year 2013 this month. The tech giant is the latest in a string of companies that have accelerated dividend payments in anticipation of higher
tax rates next year.

Treasury prices picked up ground, lowering yields on the 10-year note to 1.61% from Monday's 1.63%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices gave back 90 cents to $88.19 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices capsized $21.30 an ounce to $1,699.80 U.S.