TSX Plumbs 8-Week Lows on Gold Prices

Thomson under Microscope

Canada's benchmark stock index fell to a new eight-week low on Thursday, on track for its fourth straight day of losses, as a hawkish U.S. Federal Reserve sapped demand for equities and gold prices slipped.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index collapsed 89.3 points to pause for noon hour Thursday at 15,862.37

The Canadian dollar gained 0.15 cents to 81.42 cents U.S.

Financial information company Thomson Reuters was the biggest decliner for the second straight day, down $1.94, or 3.6%, to $51.29, after some analysts cut their ratings.

Rating agency Standard & Poor's also placed the company on credit watch "negative" from "stable," and Moody's Investor Service put its rating on review for a downgrade. The company on Tuesday announced a deal to sell 55% of its Financial & Risk business to Blackstone Group

NovaGold Resources found its way out of negative territory, gaining one cent to $4.57, while rival Hudbay Minerals was the biggest gainer on the index, rising 24 cents, or 2.3%, to $10.78, despite a 0.4% drop in copper prices

On the economic slate, Markit Canada’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index picked up to 55.9 in January from 54.7 in December, to remain well above the 50.0 no-change threshold. Moreover, the latest PMI reading signaled the joint-strongest improvement in business conditions since April 2011.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange plummeted 13.9 points, or 1.6%, to 850.44

All but one of the 12 TSX subgroups were lower midday, with health-care issues ailing 3%, consumer staples wilting 1.3%, and utilities off 1.2%.

The lone gainer was information technology, galloping 3%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. equities rose on Thursday, the first day of February, adding to the strong gains made in the previous month.

The Dow Jones Industrial forged ahead 146.71 points to 26,296.10

The S&P 500 gained 10.3 points to 2,834.11, with financials and telecommunications as the best-performing sectors.

The NASDAQ took on 15.35 points to 7,426.83, as Facebook shares climbed 4% to an all-time high. Facebook reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue on Wednesday.

January was the best month for the S&P 500 and Dow since March 2016, while the NASDAQ had its biggest one-month gain since October 2015. The S&P 500 also notched its best January performance since 1997.

But stocks kicked off February on a sour note, as a decline DowDuPont pressured the Dow. The company reported better-than-expected quarterly results, but traded about 1% lower.

Thursday marks the busiest days of the U.S. earnings season, with about 70 companies reporting. Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Visa and Mattel are among the companies scheduled to report. UPS, AutoNation and Blackstone are among the companies that reported before the bell.

Wall Street also looked ahead to Friday’s release of the U.S. government's monthly jobs report. Economists expect the economy to have added 180,000 jobs.

Stocks were also under pressure after the release of weaker-than-expected productivity numbers. The U.S. government said in a preliminary report that fourth-quarter productivity fell 0.1%. Economists expected a gain of 1%.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note slipped, raising yields to 2.75% from Wednesday’s 2.72%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices moved up 77 cents a barrel to $65.50 U.S.

Gold prices improved $2.80 to $1,345.90 U.S. an ounce.