Canada's main stock index hit a two-week low on Thursday as commodity prices fell, but the index pared its earlier losses as investors weighed testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index progressed to within 1.57 points of breakeven to greet noon Thursday at 15,441.11
The Canadian dollar inched up 0.04 cents to 77.95 cents U.S.
Powell told Congress that there was no evidence that the U.S. economy is currently overheating. Investors have worried that the U.S. central bank will accelerate the pace of its interest rate increases this year.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost ground, as Barrick Gold Corp fell 2.4% to $14.42 and First Quantum Minerals Ltd declined 3.1% to $20.26.
Still, the energy group rose, helped by a 1.8% gain for the shares of Canadian Natural Resources to $40.45 after the company reported Q4 profit that beat estimates.
Toronto-Dominion Bank also rallied after reporting quarterly earnings that beat market expectations. Its shares rose 1.4% to $75.00.
Mexico's economy minister met with top U.S. trade officials on Wednesday midway through the latest push to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, as concerns about steel added to tensions between the two countries.
The TSX Venture Exchange moved up 0.02 points to 829.14
Eight of the 12 TSX subgroups remained negative, with gold still down 0.6%, information technology and telecoms each sliding 0.4%
Among gainers, energy pumped 0.7% higher, consumer staples picked up 0.3%, and industrials gained 0.1%.
Stocks wobbled on Thursday, alternating between gains and losses, as investors listened to fresh testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
The Dow Jones Industrials declined 47.24 points to pause for lunch Thursday at 24,981.96
The S&P 500 dropped 2.99 points to 2,768.88,
The NASDAQ Composite came to within 4.13 points of breakeven to 7,268.88
Shares of U.S. Steel and AK Steel gave back some of their gains after the Trump administration said President Donald Trump would likely not be issuing an announcement on tariffs, as was previously expected.
U.S. Steel hiked as much as 8.4%, and AK Steel rose as much as 12%, before trading up about 2% each.
A White House official said Trump will announce tariffs at a meeting Thursday. This comes after word that executives from top U.S. steel and aluminum companies had been invited to the White House for an emergency meeting on Thursday.
On the data front, the Commerce Department said consumer spending rose 0.2% in January, while personal income rose 0.4%. The core personal consumption expenditures price index, meanwhile, advanced 1.5% on an annualized basis, in line with expectations.
Powell is speaking before the Senate Finance Committee later on Thursday. Earlier this week, he testified before the House Financial Services Committee, where he indicated market volatility won't stop the central bank from raising rates.
Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note eked higher, lowering yields to 2.86% from Wednesday’s 2.87%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices eased 57 cents a barrel to $61.07 U.S.
Gold prices slid $6.40 at $1,311.50 U.S. an ounce.