Positive start to trading day

Teck, Stantec in focus

Markets in Canada’s largest market opened higher on Thursday, boosted by the financial sector that rose after strong earnings from two of the country's biggest insurance companies.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index gathered 34.33 points to kick off Thursday trading at 16,349.41

The Canadian dollar deducted 0.08 at 76.74 cents U.S.

Canada Goose reported a smaller-than-expected first-quarter loss, amid growing revenue from its direct-to-consumer business.

Canada Goose shares gained $1.33, or 1.8%, to $74.00

Canadian Tire Corp. reported a 20% fall in quarterly profit, as the company ramped up investments in its stores and online business.

Canadian Tire lost $14.40, or 7.9%, to $168.00

Teck Resources said on Wednesday it had received regulatory approval for its $4.8-billion Phase 2 project at its Quebrada Blanca copper mine in northern Chile, a sprawling expansion that will boost production from the deposit to 300,000 tonnes of copper annually.

Teck shares dipped 10 cents to $32.47.

Two of Canada's biggest insurance companies, Manulife Financial and Sun Life, on Wednesday reported second-quarter earnings which beat market expectations, benefiting in part from strong growth in Asia.

Manulife shares picked up 21 cents to $23.61, while Sun Life retreated $1.67, or 3.2%, to $50.23.

Canaccord Genuity raised its rating on Stantec Inc. to buy from hold, and the target price to $37.00 from $34.00. Stantec shares sold for $34.01, up $1.12, or 3.4%/

Canaccord Genuity raised the price target on Solium Capital to $14.00 from $12.75. Solium shares nicked up two cents to $11.98.

Desjardins raised the target price on Goeasy Ltd. to $55.00 from $48.00. Goeasy shares took on 41 cents to $49.79.

On the economic beat, Statistics Canada’s new housing price index increased in June, marking the first upward movement since November 2017.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said the trend in housing starts was 219,988 units in July 2018, compared to 221,738 units in June 2018.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange faded 0.23 points to open Thursday at 698.59

All but one of the 12 subgroups were higher to start the session, as health-care strengthened 1.2%, information technology clicked higher 0.7%, and materials improved 0.6%.

The lone laggard was in consumer discretionary, off only 0.1% at that.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks traded little changed on Thursday as the S&P 500 was within striking distance of reaching an all-time high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 7.63 points to 25,576.12, DowDuPont outperformed.

The S&P 500 gained 1.17 points to 2,858.87, as materials outperformed.

The NASDAQ recovered 20.11 points to 7,908.44, as Amazon shares hit an all-time high while Apple rose nearly 1%.

Entering Thursday's session, the S&P 500 was just 0.5% away from reaching 2,872.87, a record high set on Jan. 26. The broad index has climbed back to record territory as strong quarterly earnings have largely offset worries about rising trade tensions.

Nearly 90% of S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results thus far. Of those companies, 76% have reported better-than-expected earnings. Overall, S&P 500 earnings for the second quarter are up more than 24% versus the year-earlier period.

Booking Holdings and Norwegian Cruise Line both reported better-than-expected earnings on Thursday. Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line rose more than 4%, but Booking Holdings fell after issuing a weak third-quarter profit forecast.

Trade tensions have simmered throughout the strong earnings season, however. Beijing announced Wednesday it would counter the most recent round of U.S. tariffs with its own. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced a 25% charge on $16 billion worth of U.S. goods. In total, 333 goods have been picked out by China, including vehicles, various types of fuels, recyclables and fiber optical cables.

The producer's price index remained unchanged in July, while economists expected a gain of 0.2%. The report comes as the latest reading of the consumer price index — a key metric for inflation — is set for release on Friday.

Prices for the benchmark for the 10-year U.S. Treasury gained sharply, lowering yields to 2.94% from Wednesday’s 2.97%. Treasury prices
and yields move in opposite directions

Oil prices inched up 11 cents to $67.05 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices gained $1.70 to $1,222.70 U.S. an ounce.