Markets Flat Following News of No U.S. Rate Hike

Alamos, Couche-Tard in Focus

Futures for Canada's main stock index were flat on Thursday, as the U.S. Federal Reserve abandoned projections for interest rate hikes this year amid signs of an economic slowdown.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index dawdled 20.54 points to conclude Wednesday’s session at 16,167.56

The Canadian dollar doffed 0.27 cents to 74.97 cents U.S. early Thursday

June futures removed 0.01% Thursday.

Canada's battered oil industry is rooting for the opposition in next month's election in energy heartland Alberta, investors said on Wednesday, but a brewing scandal involving the party's leader could derail its hopes of an easy victory.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remained under pressure over a corruption scandal on Wednesday as a legislator quit his party's caucus and a pre-election budget aimed at swaying key voters appeared to offer too little to stem the tide of negative news.

National Bank of Canada cut the rating on Alamos Gold to sector perform from outperform

CIBC raised the price target on Alimentation Couche Tard to $82.00 from $80.00

Canaccord Genuity raised the price target on Curaleaf Holdings to $14 from $13.50

On the economic beat, Statistics Canada reported the number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits fell to 435,600 in January, down 9,800, or 2.2%, from December.

Also, wholesale trade rose 0.6% to $63.5 billion in January, a second consecutive monthly gain. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.7%.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange finished higher 1.9 points Wednesday to 637.97

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stock index futures fell on Thursday morning as investors digested the Federal Reserve's latest announcement on monetary policy as well as a sharp drop in Biogen shares.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 98 points, or 0.4%, at 25,631

Futures for the S&P 500 lost nine points, or 0.3%, at 2,818

NASDAQ futures slumped 28 points, or 0.4%, to 7,381.50

The Dow closed lower on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced a more dovish policy. Jerome Powell, the Fed's chair, said the central bank is forecasting no rate hikes in 2019, which is down from two hikes forecast earlier. U.S. Treasury yields fell on the news, which added pressure on certain stocks, including banks.

Rising rates are good for banks since they are able to lend out money to investors at a profitable rate of interest. Lower interest rates restrict the bank's ability to make profits thus adding pressure on margins.

The central bank also lowered its growth outlook for 2019

Biogen shares plunged 26% in the pre-market after discontinuing trials for a drug aimed at treating Alzheimer's Disease.

Conagra Brands and NIKE Inc. are among the companies declaring earnings Thursday.

Overseas, in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index handed back 0.9%, while Japanese markets were shuttered for a holiday.

Oil prices added 45 cents to $59.78 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices gained $13.40 to $1,315.10 U.S. an ounce.