TSX Slips as Energy Lags

SNC, Home Capital in Focus

Stocks in Canada’s largest market slipped in early trade on Friday, with heavyweight energy and banking stocks slightly lower as oil prices dipped and domestic inflation data came in lower than expected.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index eased lower 0.73 points to begin the week’s last session at 15,624.83

The Canadian dollar slumped 0.24 cents at 74.02 cents U.S.

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc on Thursday said it would buy British engineering and consultancy firm WS Atkins Plc for $3.6 billion, firming up an indicative offer it made earlier this month.

SNC shares surged 96 cents, or 1.8%, to $54.01.

In a move seen as a victory for net neutrality advocates, Canada's telecom regulator said all data delivered online should be treated equally by internet service providers as it blocked one company's effort to leverage content to win customers.

Barclays cuts target price on First Quantum Minerals to $14.00 from $14.20. First Quantum shares listed lower 24 cents, or 1.8%, to $13.20.

TD Securities cut the target price on Home Capital Group to $23.00 from $33.00. Home Capital shares vaulted $2.73, or 15.4%, after hefty losses Thursday, to begin Friday at $20.44.

Credit Suisse cut the rating on Hudson's Bay Co. to neutral from outperform. The Bay shares faded 14 cents, or 1.2%, to $12.00.

On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported Friday that March’s consumer price index rose 1.6% on a year-over-year basis, following a 2.0% increase in February.

The agency adds, on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, inflation was down 0.2% in March, after decreasing 0.3% in February.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange gained 0.5 points to 824.78.

Seven of the 12 TSX subgroups started the day in the red, as consumer discretionary, energy and financial stocks each lost 0.2%.

The five gainers were co-led by gold and information technology, each 0.3%, and utilities, up 0.2%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks traded mostly flat on Friday as investors looked ahead to France's presidential election while digesting more quarterly results from companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched ahead 10.15 points to 20,588.86, with IBM contributing the most losses.

The S&P 500 subtracted 0.69 points to 2,355.15, with telecommunications lagging

The NASDAQ Composite added 1.42 points to 5,918.21

In corporate news, Dow component Visa reported better-than-expected quarterly results and announced a $5-billion U.S. buyback of class A stock. General Electric, another Dow component, also beat Wall Street estimates for earnings and revenue.

Earnings season is off to a strong start. As of Friday morning, 77% of the 95 S&P 500 companies that had reported topped earnings-per-share estimates while 67% beat on sales.

In economic news, existing home sales rose to levels not seen since 2007 last month.

Uncertainty around the French election has grown over the past month after far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon's surprising surge in the polls. Concerns over a victory from far-right candidate Marine Le Pen rose after a shooting in Paris.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note inched forward, lowering yields to 2.23% from Thursday’s 2.24%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slipped 30 cents at $50.41 U.S. a barrel

Gold prices regained $1.30 at $1,285.10 U.S. an ounce.