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Canadian Stocks Narrowly Higher; Buoyed By Energy, Mining Sectors; But Telecom Sector Weighs As Govt Rings Changes

Canadian stocks are holding on to very small gains, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index up just 1.5 points, below the 12,840 level, having earlier run up to 12,870.

Stocks are split almost equally between winners and losers, with both the Energy and Metals & Mining sectors rising nearly 1.5% each to keep the broader market gauges in the black. Among the sector gainers today is Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ.TO, CNQ), up 3% after it raised its dividend by 19% to C$0.125 per share, helping offset adjusted Q4 earnings of C$0.33 per share, down from C$0.88 a year ago and trailing analyst expectations by $0.07.

Shares of industrial companies also are rising, but Bombardier Inc (BBD-B.TO) has turned slightly negative. It is set to unveil its all-new CSeries aircraft intended to compete with smaller jets made by Airbus and Boeing ( BA ).

Telecom stocks are posting the steepest losses, falling a combined 1%. BNN TV in Canada said earlier today there may be some concern that news of Canadian government auction plans might weigh on the telecom giants, which are among the biggest dividend payers.

"Canada will limit the amount of wireless spectrum that large telecommunications providers such as BCE Inc. (BCE.TO) can acquire in an auction set to begin Nov. 19, Industry Canada said," Bloomberg reported.

It reported: "BCE, Telus Corp. (T.TO), Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI-B.TO) and other operators will each be able to buy only one of four blocks of spectrum identified by the industry as most desirable, the department said today in a statement outlining the rules for the auction in the 700-megahertz band."

It said: "The Canadian government estimates the sale may raise C$897 million ($869 million) based on the value of the minimum opening bids for the spectrum. The deadline for bids is June 11."

BNN TV in Canada said there may be some concern that news of the Canadian government auction plans might weigh on the telecom giants, they are among the biggest dividend payers.

In economic news, Canada's merchandise exports rose 2.1% in January and imports increased 1.9%, according to figures released today by StatisticsCanada. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world narrowed from $332 million in December to $237 million in January.

Also, municipalities issued building permits worth $5.8 billion in January, a 1.7% rise over December levels, with an increase in the residential sector more than offsetting a decrease in the non-residential sector. Despite the advance, the total value of building permits has been trending lower since October 2012.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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