Futures Static as Investors Focus on Trade Talks

Alcanna, Savaria in Vogue

Futures pointed to a flat opening for Canada's main stock index on Thursday, as investors await the United States and China to make progress in resolving their trade dispute.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 93.8 points to end Wednesday at 16,031.24

The Canadian dollar inched up 0.02 cents to 75.94 cents U.S. early Thursday

March futures were flat Thursday.

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday calmed restless legislators at a meeting to discuss two resignations that rocked his Liberal government, but side-stepped questions about how he planned to handle the crisis.

CIBC cut the price target on Alcanna to $6.00 from $9.00.

LB Securities cut the price target on Savaria to $16.50 from $20.00

RBC raised the price target Emera to $53.00 from $50.00

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 0.28 points Wednesday to 622.33.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stock futures were slightly lower Thursday as trade talks between the U.S. and China continue.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 27 points, or 0.1%, at 25,937.

Futures for the S&P 500 slid 3.5 points, or 0.1%, to 2,783.50

NASDAQ futures fell 5.5 points, or 0.1%, to 7,067.75

In terms of earnings, Chinese tech giant Baidu and American food firm Kraft Heinz are set to report results after the bell Thursday.

On the data front, a flurry of economic reports is expected throughout the day. Jobless claims, the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index, durable goods orders, manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers’ index) and services PMI are due later this morning.

Reports early Thursday morning said Washington and Beijing have begun drawing up memorandums of understanding over trade. Officials from both countries met for talks this week and higher-level discussions are set to be held on Thursday and Friday.

The U.S. and China are trying to resolve their differences over trade ahead of a March 1 deadline. However, speculation has risen that there may be an extension to that target, after President Donald Trump said it was not a "magical date."

Investors also digested the minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting. The central bank highlighted downside risks to the economy from its January meeting.

Overseas, in Japan, the Nikkei 225 inched up 0.2% Thursday, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng gained 0.4%.

Oil prices seven cents to $57.23 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices stumbled $10.10 to $1,337.80 U.S. an ounce.