Futures in Minus Column

Couche-Tard, Aphria in Focus


Futures for equities in Canada’s largest centre fell on Friday, as weakness in oil prices and fears of tighter lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise globally outweighed optimism around a U.S. stimulus plan outlined by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

The TSX gained 23.35 points to conclude Thursday at 17,958.09.

The Canadian dollar dumped 0.44 cents to 78.62 cents U.S.

March futures skidded 0.2% Friday.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire expressed France's stiff opposition to a possible near-$20-billion takeover of Carrefour by Alimentation Couche-Tard on Friday

Canaccord Genuity raised the rating on Aphria to speculative buy from hold.

CIBC initiated coverage on Cenovus Energy with an outperform rating

National Bank of Canada raised the rating on Pason Systems to outperform from sector perform.

On the economic beat, the Canadian Real Estate Association was scheduled to come out Friday morning with home sales for December.

As well, housing starts were in the news, as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation was to declare the figure for December. Results were not available at press time.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange leaped 14.11 points, or 1.6%, Thursday to 914.35.

ON WALLSTREET

Stock futures fell on Friday as President-elect Joe Biden announced details of a $1.9-trillion stimulus plan and major banks got set to release their quarterly results, kicking off the earnings reporting season.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial dropped 153 points, or 0.5%, to 30.756

Futures for the S&P 500 flopped 13.75 points, or 0.4%, at 3,777.50.

Futures for the NASDAQ Composite fell 2.25 points to 12,878.75.

The market was expecting a sizable stimulus from Biden, with the S&P 500 up 9% in the last three months and rates on the rise.

Biden’s proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, includes increasing the additional federal unemployment payments to $400 per week and extending them through September, direct payments to many Americans of $1,400, and extending the federal moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures through September.

The plan also calls for $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, $70 billion for Covid testing and vaccination programs and raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

On Friday, investors will get fresh looks at major banks as Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase report their fourth-quarter earnings.

JPMorgan was out first and the shares were slightly higher as the bank’s earnings topped expectations on solid trading and fewer credit losses than feared.

Shares of Citigroup dipped in the pre-market despite beating analysts’ estimates for profit. Both Citigroup and JPMorgan released cash reserves for loan losses.

It remains unclear whether Biden’s proposal will be welcomed in a sharply divided Congress. Though Democrats hold both houses, they will need to sway moderate members of their own party, such as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and some Republicans to increase spending.

Democrats originally pushed for another multi-trillion package last year before agreeing to a $900-billion bill in December.

There will also be new data on retail sales and inflation.

Overseas, in Japan, the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.6%, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index slid 0.3%.

Oil prices gave back 58 cents to $52.99 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices retreated five dollars to $1,846.40 U.S.