Toronto Stocks off to Weak Start

Canada sheds 7,100 jobs in December

Stocks in Toronto opened near flat Thursday with technology stocks advancing while both the marijuana and mining sectors were showing weakness.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index strengthened 8.43 points in early action Thursday to 16,335.13.

TransCanada (TRP.TO) said it received strong commercial support for its Keystone XL pipeline and closed its window for shippers to sign up for committed capacity, taking it one step closer to starting construction on the project. TransCanada has secured firm, 20-year commitments for about 500,000 barrels per day of oil and oil equivalents as it concluded its open season for the project, the company said on Thursday.

On the economic front -- Canada shed 7,100 jobs in December, driven by cuts in the manufacturing, education and trade sectors, according to a report from ADP released on Thursday.

Canada’s biggest banks will hike their prime rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Thursday. The Royal Bank of Canada was first to announce its prime rate will rise to 3.45 percent, shortly after the Bank of Canada raised its key short-term rate by a quarter-point to 1.25 percent.

The Canadian dollar slid 0.014 cents at 80.24 cents U.S.

Global oil prices eased from three-year highs, paring gains from its recent 14% rally since early December after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that domestic crude stocks fell 5.1 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 12. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, declined 0.3% to $63.79 a barrel.

Gold edged higher on Thursday after hitting its lowest in nearly a week as the dollar pared gains, but analysts said bullion was vulnerable to more losses. Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,330.01 per ounce.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange dipped 2.66 points to 882.30

Six of the TSX subgroups were higher this morning with consumer discretionary stocks up 0.39%, tech issues ahead 0.21% and financial stocks up 0.20%.

On the downside, health-care issues dipped 2.17%, base metals were off 1.05% and energy stocks shed 0.62%.

ON WALLSTREET

US stocks were trading lower on Thursday morning following a record-setting day during the previous trading session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 30 points, or 0.1%, to 26,085, while S&P 500 edged 2 points, or less than 0.1%, lower at 2,801. The Nasdaq Composite Index traded flat at 7,301, down by 0.1%.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares fell slightly after the tech giant moved to pump around $350 billion into the U.S. economy over the next five years, pay a tax bill of roughly $38 billion on an undefined portion of its $252.2 billion overseas cash pile, announced plans to spend $30 billion on both existing company sites and a new campus, and said it would increase its headcount by around 20,000.

Wyndham Worldwide Corp. said it would pay $1.95 billion in cash to buy La Quinta Holdings Inc.’s hotel franchise and management business. La Quinta shares were up 3.6%.

In economic news -- Weekly jobless claims fell to a 45-year low, falling by 41,000 to 220,000. Meanwhile, construction on new houses fell 8.2% in December to a 1.19 million annual rate, with economists polled forecasting housing starts to total 1.28 million. Permits for future construction were basically flat at 1.30 million.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 1.5 basis point to 2.6047%, trading around its highest level since mid-March.