Modest Gains for TSX

Financials, Cannabis Share Rise

Canada's main stock index rose modestly on Wednesday, supported by gains in Manulife Financial and the banking sector, as well as a bounce-back in shares of cannabis companies.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index took on 29.16 points to greet noon at 15,393.09

The Canadian dollar was down 0.26 cents at 79.71 cents U.S.

Cannabis producers were among the most actively traded, including Canopy Growth, which was among the biggest advancers on the index, up 6.7% at $30.73.

Marijuana shares had come under pressure in recent weeks but have begun to perk back up. Aphria rose 4.9% to $17.45, while Aurora Cannabis rose 7.1% to $12.35.

Manulife Financial rose 0.7% to $25.27 after sources said it was weighing the sale of a number of U.S. insurance assets. The financials group gained ground, as Toronto Dominion Bank rose 0.3% to $71.89, while Bank of Nova Scotia rose 0.2% to $78.32.

On the economic docket, Statistics Canada reported that Canadian municipalities issued $8.1 billion in building permits in December, up 4.8% following a 7.3% decline in November. The agency attributes the December increase to higher construction intentions in the residential sector.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange gained 10 points, or 1.2%, to reach lunch hour at 839.65

All but three of the 12 TSX subgroups were higher midday, with health-care and consumer discretionary stocks better by 1% each, while utilities grew 0.9%.

The three laggards were energy, down 1.3%, gold, down 0.4%, and materials off 0.3%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks rose in choppy trade Wednesday as Wall Street tried to build on the strong gains set in the previous session.

The Dow Jones Industrial leaped 263.36 points, or 1.1% to 25,176.13, after opening more than 120 points lower. Boeing and Wal-Mart were the best-performing stocks in the index, rising more than 3%.

The S&P 500 gained 19.73 points to 2,714.87, with telecommunications and industrials as the best-performing sector.

The NASDAQ advanced 17.55 points to 7,133.38

The latest moves come after three volatile sessions in which fear of rising inflation sent interest rates higher, pressuring equities. Traders also blamed computerized trading and sharp moves in obscure volatility funds that use leverage for the market's recent swings.

On Tuesday, the 30-stock index swung 1,167.5 points before closing 567 points higher.

But despite Tuesday's sharp close higher, the Dow is down 4.4% since Friday. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ, meanwhile, are down 4.4% and 3.8%, respectively, since then.

In corporate news, earnings season remained in full swing Wednesday with Hasbro and Michael Kors reporting before the bell. Hasbro posted mixed results, with sales missing expectations. The stock rose nearly 3% after falling more than 4% pre-market.

21st Century Fox, Tesla Motors, IAC/InterActive, Yum China and Yelp are expected to publish updates after the bell.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note were slightly lower, pushing yields up to 2.81% from Tuesday’s 2.8%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices sank $1.62 a barrel to $61.77 U.S.

Gold prices dropped $9.70 to $1,319.80 U.S. an ounce.