TSX futures indicate a slightly higher start


Canada's main stock index edged lower on Wednesday, retreating from a almost six-week high as financial shares declined and the energy sector gave up an earlier advance, although overall losses were tempered by gains in consumer-related stocks.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 70.25 points to 15,477.50 after 90 minutes of trading.

The Canadian dollar also finished slightly higher, climbing 0.05 of a USA cent at 74.53 cents US.

In corporate news, retailer Hudson's Bay (TSX:HBC) reported a $152-million net loss in its fourth quarter ended January 28.

Lofty market valuations - in the wake of the post-election rally - will be tested when the first-quarter earnings season starts next week. Of the index's 10 main groups, eight were higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 14.80 points to 20,662.95, the S&P 500 index inched up 4.54 points to 2,357.49 and the Nasdaq composite index was ahead 14.47 points to 5,878.95. On the Nasdaq, 1,532 issues rose and 1,203 fell.The S&P 500 index showed 34 52-week highs and three lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 62 highs and 35 lows.

Wall Street indices had been trading higher throughout the day, but sold off after the US central bank suggested it might start trimming its balance sheet later in the year.

The Fed has US$4.5 trillion on its balance sheet, a figure that quadrupled during the financial crisis of 2008-09 as the central bank bought up bonds to keep interest rates low and boost the economy.

"It seems as though whenever it goes under US$50, we start hearing rumblings from the OPEC talking about extending their supply cuts", said Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets Canada. "Now we got to turn to earnings to figure that out".

"Everyone is waiting for Trump's meeting with the Chinese leader, but more importantly, tomorrow's a big day because people are awaiting the employment numbers", said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds, referring to the meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping that kicks off on Thursday evening and the release of both Canadian and U.S.jobs data.

On Wednesday, payroll provider ADP reported that there were 118,000 jobs added by small businesses last month, up from a revised 87,000 in February.

Global benchmark Brent crude was down 3 cents at $54.14 a barrel by 11:24 ET.

The June gold contract was up $5.80 at US$1,254.30 an ounce and May copper contracts were down one cent at US$2.67 a pound.