Lower Readings for TSX at Open

Savaria, Emera in Focus

Canada's main stock index opened lower on Thursday, as material shares were down on the back of a fall in gold prices, and lower oil prices weighed on energy stocks.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index backpedaled 34.99 points to commence trading Thursday at 15,996.25

The Canadian dollar eked back 0.01 cents at 75.90 cents U.S.

The federal government will unveil its budget for the 2019/20 fiscal year on March 19 and outline ways to provide more access to prescription drugs, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Wednesday

CIBC cut the price target on Alcanna to $6.00 from $9.00. Alcanna dipped 16 cents, or 3.2%, to $4.87.

LB Securities cut the price target on Savaria to $16.50 from $20.00. Savaria shares faded 28 cents, or 2.1%, to $13.06.

RBC raised the price target Emera to $53.00 from $50.00. Emera shares lost 12 cents to $46.27.

On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada said in December, 446,300 people received regular Employment Insurance benefits, up 4,600 or 1.0% from November.

The agency also said wholesale trade rose 0.3% to $63.1 billion in December following a 1.1% decline in November. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.3%.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange nicked up 0.74 points to 623.07.

All but one of the 12 TSX subgroups were negative to begin the session, as consumer staples stumbled 1.2%, while gold lost 0.7%, and materials were 0.6% to the bad.

Only health-care showed any progress, gaining 0.8%

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks traded lower on Thursday following the release of disappointing U.S. economic data. Wall Street also kept an eye on Washington as U.S.-China trade negotiations carried on.

The Dow Jones Industrials shed 89.14 points to open at 25,865.30, as Johnson & Johnson lagged.

The S&P 500 dropped 9.33 points to 2,775.12, led lower by the communications and real estate sectors.

The NASDAQ Composite wilted 44.78 points to 7,444.25

Durable goods orders for December, meanwhile, rose 1.2%, the Commerce Department said. The department also said core capital goods orders fell 0.7%, while economists expected a gain of 0.2%.

IHS Markit also said its U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to 53.7 in February, a 17-month low, from 54.9 last month.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board's leading economic index fell for the second straight month in January, marking the index's first back-to-back pullback since early 2016.

The data releases come a day after the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its January meeting. The minutes highlighted downside risks to the U.S. economy, including "a rapid waning of fiscal policy stimulus, or a further tightening of financial market conditions."

However, the Fed also hinted it may end its balance-sheet normalization process faster than expected. This would be positive for equity investors, as many see the reduction of the balance sheet as a form of tighter monetary policy.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury slid, raising yields to 2.69% from Wednesday’s 2.65%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices doffed 20 cents to $56.96 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices fell $15.10 to $1,332.80 U.S. an ounce.