TSX Ticks Higher on Higher Domestic Demand

Boyd, Alamos Take Centre Stage

Canada's main stock index eked out gains on Thursday after data showed increased domestic hiring and wholesale trade, even as the U.S. Federal Reserve abandoned projections for interest rate hikes this year amid signs of an economic slowdown.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index strengthened 42.05 points to approach noon EDT Thursday at 16,209.61

The Canadian dollar slipped 0.42 cents at 74.83 cents U.S.

The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Boyd Gaming, which jumped $8.54, or 6.6%, to $137.83, and Crescent Point Energy, which rose 32 cents, or 7.3%, to $4.69

Alamos Gold fell 21 cents, or 3%, to $6.82

The second-biggest decliner was Martinrea International, down 43 cents, or 3.6%, to $12.51, as BMO moved to the sidelines on the company's stock.

On the economic beat, Statistics Canada reported the number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits fell to 435,600 in January, down 9,800, or 2.2%, from December.

Also, wholesale trade rose 0.6% to $63.5 billion in January, a second consecutive monthly gain. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.7%.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange eked higher 1.87 points to 639.84

All but three of the 12 TSX subgroups were higher, with information technology chugging 1.2%, industrials stronger by 1%, and energy up 0.9%.

The three laggards proved to be health-care, staggering 0.9%, financials, poorer by 0.4%, and consumer staples, down 0.1%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks rose on Thursday as Apple and Micron surged to lead the tech sector higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average spiked 202.7 points to move into noon hour at 25,948.37, as a 3.6% gain in Apple offset a decline in J.P. Morgan Chase.

The S&P 500 took on 23.75 points to 2,847.91

The NASDAQ Composite gained 79.76 points, or 1%, to 7,808.73

Apple rose after Needham upgrade the stock to strong buy from buy, citing "value upside" in the firm's ecosystem. Thursday's gains led the stock to break above its 200-day moving average for the first time since November.

Micron shares jumped 9.2% after reporting quarterly earnings that beat analyst expectations.

Biogen tanked more than 28% after discontinuing trials for a drug aimed at treating Alzheimer's Disease.

These moves come after a slew of negative commentary from companies like FedEx, BMW and UBS. Earlier this week, FedEx CFO Alan Graf said: "Slowing international macroeconomic conditions and weaker global trade growth trends continue." Meanwhile, BMW said it is looking to cut $13.6 billion in costs this year while UBS noted the first quarter could be one of its worst ever.

On Wednesday, the Fed said it does not expect to raise rates at all in 2019. The central bank had forecast at least two rate hikes for this year back in December. The Fed added it expects to end its balance-sheet reduction process by the end of September. However, it also lowered its economic growth forecast for 2019.

Equities are on track to post a muted weekly performance, with the major indexes little changed. On top of digesting the Fed's announcement, investors are also grappling with mixed news on the trade front. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Washington's tariffs on Beijing could stay on for a "substantial period of time."

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury gained a mite, lowering yields to 2.52% from Wednesday’s 2.53%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices fell seven cents to $60.16 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices added $8.50 to $1,310.20 U.S. an ounce.

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