Stocks Flat at Finish

3M Endures Worst Drubbing in 30 Yrs.

Equities faded to just below the breakeven point by the closing bell on Thursday, weighed by a drop in Bombardier shares following a weak full-year outlook. Also, the Bank of Canada lowered its growth forecast for 2019.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index moved into the plus territory briefly, before falling 10.42 points to close Thursday at 16,576.10
The Canadian dollar nudged up 0.04 cents at 74.15 cents U.S.

Among consumer staples, Metro moved ahead 18 cents to $49.01, while Empire Company sprung up 59 cents, or 2%, to $29.92
In the financial sector, Manulife acquired six cents to $24.44, while Scotiabank advanced 26 cents to $72.85.

Tech shares found their way up, too, as BlackBerry gained 16 cents, or 1.3% to $12.20, while Constellation Software powered up $6.51 to $1,176.62.

Gold stumbled in price, as Kinross Gold drooped eight cents, or 1.8%, to $4.30, while Kirkland Lake Gold swooned 74 cents, or 1.7%, to $42.48.

Among consumer discretionary stocks, Canadian Tire retreated 69 cents to $149.07, and Hudson’s Bay Company lost six cents to $7.22.

In the materials sector, Precision Drilling ditched 18 cents, or 4.8%, to $3.61, while New Era Minerals were unchanged at 3.5 cents.

Bombardier, for its part, fell 45 cents, or 15.4%, to $2.47 after cutting its full-year profit and revenue forecast as delays in some large projects hit its dominant transportation unit that makes rail cars.

On the economic board, Statistics Canada says average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $1,007 in February, little changed from the previous month. Compared with 12 months earlier, earnings grew by 1.1%.

Moreover, the Bank of Canada cut its growth forecast for the year, due to a slowdown in Canada's oil sector, the negative impact of global trade policies and a weaker-than-expected housing sector.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange regained 0.63 points to 608.87

Eight of the 12 Toronto subgroups gained ground by the closing bell, led by consumer staples, advancing 0.6%, financials, ahead 0.3%, and information technology, gaining 0.2%.

The four laggards were weighed most by gold and consumer discretionary, down 0.8% each, and materials, slumping 0.7%.

ON WALLSTREET

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped on Thursday as a sharp decline in 3M shares dragged the 30-stock index.

The Dow lost 134.97 points to 26,462.08, as shares of 3M dropped 12.9% after the company reported earnings that were much lower than analysts had expected.

The company also slashed its full-year outlook and announced plans to cut 2,000 jobs worldwide. 3M shares posted their worst day since Oct. 19, 1987, also known as Black Monday.

3M CEO Mike Roman said the quarter was "disappointing," noting: "We continued to face slowing conditions in key end markets which impacted both organic growth and margins, and our operational execution also fell short of the expectations we have for ourselves."

The S&P 500 doffed 1.08 points to 2,926.17,

The NASDAQ Composite gained 16.67 to 8,118.68, and hit an intraday record, getting a boost from strong quarterly reports out of Facebook and Microsoft.

Facebook shares rose 5.5% after its first-quarter numbers showed promising growth in Stories and ads.

The analyst also raised his price target on Facebook to $220 per share from $200.

Microsoft, meanwhile, climbed more than 3% as its better-than-expected earnings were driven by a 41% surge in its commercial cloud revenue business. That growth was led by Azure, which saw sales skyrocket by 73%.

Amazon and Starbucks were among the companies that reported after the bell Thursday, along with Dow member Intel.

More than 170 S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results so far, according to FactSet. Of those companies, 78% have posted better-than-expected earnings.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury were marginally down, raising yields to 2.54% from Wednesday’s 2.52%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slid 83 cents to $65.06 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices lost 10 cents to $1,279.30 U.S. an ounce.