Stocks Hold Own by Noon

Cannabis Firms Lead Way

Equities in Toronto rose on Wednesday, buoyed by gains in the materials sector, as investors awaited the signing of Phase One U.S.-China trade deal, due for around noon hour EST.

The TSX Composite Index remained buoyant 27.10 points to greet noon Wednesday at 17,380.

The Canadian dollar eked up 0.12 cents to 76.64 cents U.S.

The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were cannabis producers Hexo, leaping 28 cents, or 13.5%, to $2.36, and Aurora Cannabis, ahead 26 cents, or 11.2%, to $2.59.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange cleared breakeven by 0.8 points to 575.23

All but three of the 12 TSX subgroups remained positive by lunch hour, with health-care popping 3.1%, information technology clicking 1.1%, and real-estate climbing 1%.

The three laggards were energy, down 1.1%, while materials and gold, each fading 0.1%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks rose on Wednesday ahead of the U.S. and China signing a so-called phase one trade deal while the corporate earnings season moved on.

The Dow Jones Industrials rocketed 155.94 points to 29,095.61, to reach an all-time high.

The S&P 500 gained 14.85 points to 3,298, also a new record.

The NASDAQ picked up 42.13 points to 9,293.46.

Looking at earnings, Bank of America reported quarterly results that beat analyst expectations as bond-trading revenue ripped higher.

Goldman Sachs posted quarterly revenue that surpassed projections. BlackRock, UnitedHealth and PNC Financial also posted earnings that beat analyst expectations.

So far, about 30 S&P 500 companies have released their quarterly numbers. Of those companies, 82% have posted better-than-expected profits.

Expectations for corporate profits were downbeat heading into the reporting period. Experts estimated S&P 500 earnings to have fallen 2% in the fourth quarter on a year-over-year basis.

What’s more, Target shares dropped more than 6% after the retailer announced disappointing holiday same-store sales. Target said its same-store sales during the holidays rose just 1.4%, compared to growth of 5.7% from the prior year.

Also helping sentiment Wednesday morning were comments from White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow, who said the Trump administration would unveil more tax cuts later this year.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the deal at around 11:30 a.m. ET. Investors have been eagerly awaiting the signing of the so-called phase one trade agreement as the conflict between the world’s largest economies has dragged on for nearly two years.

However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a joint statement Tuesday that existing U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would stay in place even after the deal was signed.

Prices for the 10-Year U.S. Treasury gained, lowering yields to 1.79% from Tuesday’s 1.81%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slid 51 cents to $57.72 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices improved $6.70 to $1,551.30 U.S. an ounce.