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Equities Flat Before Powell Speech

Equities in Canada’s largest market moved tentatively higher Wednesday morning, ahead of comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, while investors also digested a drop in quarterly profits of National Bank and RBC.

The TSX Composite nicked up 0.27 points to begin Wednesday at 20,277.68.

The Canadian dollar regained 0.48 cents to 74.09 cents U.S.

Both National and RBC reported a drop in profit from the previous year, as the lenders set aside higher provisions for bad debts in the face of the most anticipated recession.

National shares kicked off Wednesday down $3.19, or 3.2%, to $95.23, while RBC stepped back $2.07, or 1.6%, to $131.70.

Brookfield Asset Management said it will buy a 49% stake in the education portfolio of Sweden's SBB for $870.42 million. Brookfield shares eked up nine cents to $61.15.

Canadian Natural Resources forecast higher production for 2023. Natural Resources shares surged 78 cents, or 1%, to $81.49.

Enbridge expects higher core earnings next year as the firms seek to capitalize on higher oil and gas prices. The pipeline operator also said that Greg Ebel would succeed retiring President and CEO Al Monaco. Enbridge shares galloped 66 cents, or 1.2%, to $56.18.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange gained 2.04 points to 580.96.

Seven of the 12 subgroups were positive in the first hour, with information technology better by 1.2%, gold brighter 0.5%, and health-care improving 0.4%.

The five laggards were weighed most by financials, slumping 0.8%, real-estate, down 0.5%, and materials, off 0.2%.

ON WALLSTREET

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell Wednesday as Wall Street waded through economic data and awaited an afternoon speech on the economy from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

The 30-stock index faded 234.94 points to commence Wednesday at 33,617.59.

The S&P 500 dropped 13.31 points to 3,944.32.

The NASDAQ gained 22.81 points, however, to 11,006.58.

Jobs opening data from the U.S. Labor Department released later Wednesday showed the number of openings falling and coming in below expectations. On top of that, pending home sales declined for the fifth consecutive month in October, according to data from the National Association of retailers.

But the Bureau of Economic Analysis also said Wednesday that third-quarter GDP increased at a 2.9% annual rate, according to its second estimate. That was revised higher from the 2.6% first estimate, showing the economy is stronger than previously thought.

Investors are waiting for Powell’s speech at the Brookings Institution this afternoon that may give further insight into the central bank’s thinking on future interest rate increases. The Fed is slated to meet later this month and is largely expected to deliver a smaller 0.5-percentage-point rate hike after four consecutive 0.75-percentage-point increases to tame high inflation. Any signal of a pivot on future rate hikes would likely send markets higher.

Prices for the 10-year Treasury sank, raising yields to 3.79% from Tuesday’s 3.76%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices increased $2.21 to $80.41 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices gained $2.40 to $1,766.10 U.S. an ounce.