Stocks Take Fall

Couche-Tard, Ensign in Focus

Equities in Canada’s largest centre opened lower on Wednesday, led by financial and material shares, as investors awaited an interest rate decision in the United States.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index dropped 57.46 points in Wednesday’s first hour to 16,130.64

The Canadian dollar dipped 0.05 cents at 74.99 cents U.S.

Alimentation Couche-Tard's quarterly profit fell short of analysts' estimates on Tuesday as higher costs offset a rise in fuel sales. RBC cut its price target on the stock to $85.00 from $86.00.

Stock in the convenience store chain went downward 73 cents, or 1%, to $71.45.

Canaccord Genuity raises rating on Ensign Energy Services to buy from hold. Ensign shares gathered 14 cents, or 2.5%, to $5.67

CIBC cut the price target on Westshore Terminals Investment to $22.00 from $27.00. Westshore gained 79 cents, or 4.3%, to $19.14.

As part of Tuesday’s federal budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Canada will create a national drug agency to help cut the cost of prescription medications as part of a plan to broaden the state-funded healthcare programme.

Moreover, the government will issue nearly 20% more bonds in the coming fiscal year to help the Liberal government fund its spending programmes, ahead of an October election.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange docked 1.08 points to 634.99

All but one of the 12 TSX subgroups were lower, with health-care ailing 1.5%, gold down 1.3%, and materials shedding 1.1%.

The lone holdout against the negative tide was real-estate, forging upward 0.3%

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks slipped on Wednesday as a decline in FedEx tempered sentiment while investors braced themselves for a key Federal Reserve announcement.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumbered 111.29 points to open Wednesday at 25,776.09, as Johnson & Johnson lagged.

The S&P 500 sagged 11.18 points to 2,821.39, as the health-care sector slumped.

The NASDAQ Composite slumped 20.07 points to 7,703.87

FedEx shares fell more than 5.5% after CFO Alan Graf warned in the company's quarterly report that "slowing international macroeconomic conditions and weaker global trade growth trends continue, as seen in the year-over-year decline in our FedEx Express international revenue."

That warning was followed by UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti saying this is one of the worst first-quarter environments ever as investment banking revenue falls about a third from the year-earlier period. Meanwhile, German auto maker BMW said its earnings could fall significantly in 2019 and added it will cut $13.6 billion in costs.

These negative comments come as the U.S. central bank is widely expected to keep rates steady later in the session, with investors monitoring a decision on the Fed's rate projections for the next few years.

Stocks are up more than 12% this year in large part because the Fed said in January it would be "patient" in raising rates this year. However, Wall Street could be setting itself up for a letdown if the Fed does not indicate there will be no rate hikes this year as investors have priced in extremely favorable monetary policy conditions.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury gained ground, lowering yields to 2.59% from Tuesday’s 2.61%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices sank eight cents to $58.95 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices gave back 60 cents to $1,305.90 U.S. an ounce.