Stocks Finish Wednesday Flat

Tech, Utilities Lead Gainers

Equities in Toronto finished a roller-coaster slightly on the downside Wednesday, as losses for energy issues overrode gains in the tech and utilities sectors.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 3.84 points to finish Wednesday at 15,951.67

The Canadian dollar rocketed 0.23 cents to 81.29 cents U.S.

Technology company CGI Group was among the index’s biggest gainers, rising $1.19, or 1.7%, to $70.33, after reporting earnings that beat estimates.

Elsewhere in the tech field, BlackBerry acquired seven cents to $15.57.

Among utilities, Fortis Inc. gained 73 cents, or 1.7%, to $43.41, while Hydro One gained 18 cents to $22.17.

Gold miners flourished as Barrick Gold moved ahead 10 cents to $17.47, while Goldcorp picked up 15 cents to $17.66.

Energy companies did not fare so well, as Advantage Oil and Gas gave back eight cents to $3.98, while Crew Energy gave up eight cents, or 3.4%, to $2.25.

In the consumer staples field, Nutrien Ltd. lost 96 cents, or 1.5%, to $64.41, while Loblaw Companies dipped 38 cents to $66.65.

Financial companies faded, too, as Royal Bank surrendered 12 cents to $105.32, while National Bank fell three cents to $63.84.

On the economic slate, Statistics Canada reported that gross domestic product increased 0.4% in November – in line with analyst expectations -- with widespread growth across industries as 17 of 20 industrial sectors increased.

Analysts will now look to see whether the details in the report are strong enough to get fourth-quarter growth to the 2.5% pace the Bank of Canada anticipates.

Elsewhere, the agency’s Industrial Product Price Index was found to have edged down 0.1% in December, mainly due to lower prices for energy and petroleum products and primary non-ferrous metal products. The Raw Materials Price Index decreased 0.9%, primarily due to lower prices for crude energy products.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange regained 6.02 points Wednesday to 864.35.

Eight of the 12 TSX subgroups regained some momentum by day’s end, as information technology pointed upward 1.1%, utilities added 0.9%, and gold jumped 0.8%.

The four laggards were weighed most by energy, down 0.4%, consumer staples, sliding 0.2%, and financials, off 0.1%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, capping off a strong start to 2018. The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 notched their best monthly performances since March 2016.

The Dow came off its highs of the morning, but remained positive 72.5 points to 26,149.39, with Boeing rising 4.9% and hitting an all-time high.

The S&P 500 inched higher 1.38 points to 2,823.81, with real estate as the best-performing sector.

The NASDAQ regained nine points to 7,411.48

For the month, the Dow gained 5.6% and the S&P 500 improved 5.8%. The Nasdaq meanwhile, rose 7.3% for the month, its best monthly gain since October 2015.

Boeing, Eli Lilly and, Anthem among the latest companies that reported quarterly results. Their earnings and revenues topped analyst expectations. Thus far, corporate earnings have mostly surpassed analyst expectations.

Of the S&P 500 companies that had reported as of Tuesday morning, 80% have posted better-than-expected earnings, while 81% have beaten top-line estimates

In economic news, the major indexes briefly turned negative Wednesday after a statement from the Federal Reserve sent interest rates higher.

"The combination of the Fed and the fact that people want to book an awesome month could've taken us lower" earlier in the session, said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities.

The Fed left rates unchanged, but said it expects inflation to move "up this year and to stabilize" around its 2% target. Treasury yields rose on the back of the statement. The benchmark 10-year yield rose to 2.75% before trading at 2.72%, while the two-year yield held around 2.15%.

Elsewhere, ADP and Moody's Analytics Wednesday said private companies added 234,000 jobs in January. Economists expected a gain of 185,000. The report serves as a preview to the U.S. government's monthly jobs report, which is scheduled for release Friday morning.

Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims remain near their lowest levels in about 40 years

Other data released Wednesday included the Chicago purchasing manager's index, which fell slightly in January, and pending home sales, which rose 0.5% in December.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note gained back lost ground, lowering yields back to Tuesday’s 2.72%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices recovered 36 cents a barrel to $64.86 U.S.

Gold prices strengthened $8.90 to $1,348.90 U.S. an ounce.