Market Stats

MARKETS CLOSE TORONTO — The Toronto stock market handed in a negative finish for a second straight session Wednesday, pressured by the energy sector as oil prices fell while financials stepped back amid tepid reaction to major bond issues in the U.S. and Britain.

MARKETS CLOSE

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market handed in a negative finish for a second straight session Wednesday, pressured by the energy sector as oil prices fell while financials stepped back amid tepid reaction to major bond issues in the U.S. and Britain.

But New York markets managed to close sharply higher as investors were encouraged by a pair of better than expected economic reports.

Toronto’s S&P/TSX composite index stepped back from a 132-point surge to close down 51.95 points to 8,797.44. The TSX Venture Exchange rose 24.75 points to 949.04. The Canadian dollar gained 0.22 of a cent to 81.4 cents US.

New York’s Dow Jones industrial average rose 89.6 points to 7,749.81.

The Nasdaq composite index was up 12.43 points to 1,528.95 and the S&P 500 index added 7.63 points to 813.88.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that orders to American factories for big-ticket goods rose 3.4 per cent last month, much better than the two per cent drop that had been expected. It was the first advance since July and the strongest gain in 14 months. The Commerce Department also said new-home sales rose 4.7 per cent in February.

“We’re coming off such depressed levels that any kind of modest increase is really going to look like things have improved — but levels are still very, very low,” said Michael Gregory, an economist with BMO Capital Markets.

“Maybe the market is extrapolating a bit too much,” he said, adding that “we could see falling stock prices ahead.”

Wednesday’s mixed showing came as investors hoped to extend the March rally to a third week.

The upturn kicked off March 10 on reports of profitability at American financial services company Citigroup (NYSE:C). Since then, the TSX main index is up about 16 per cent while the Dow industrials have risen about 18 per cent.

Financials came under pressure as investors gave an unexpectedly cool response to a US$24 billion auction of U.S. five-year Treasury notes Wednesday, just a day after a US$40 billion auction of two-year notes suggested strong demand.

The reaction stirred worries about how easily Washington will be able to raise money to fund its rescue program.

And Britain experienced its first incomplete auction of government bonds in almost seven years. The treasury attracted bids for only 1.63 billion pounds of a 1.75-billion-pound issue of 40-year gilts, or British government bonds.

The Toronto financial sector lost 1.65 per cent as CIBC (TSX:CM) fell $1.41 to $46.65 and National Bank (TSX:NA) was down $1.19 at $41.78.

AGF Management Ltd. (TSX:AGF.B) dropped 29 cents to $8 after its first-quarter profit fell 80 per cent from a year earlier to $12.2 million.

TSX VENTURE EXCHANGE

TORONTO — The TSX Venture Exchange closed up 24.75 points to 949.04. The volume at 4:30 p.m. was 181.82 million shares.

Among the most active companies, Oilexco (TSXV:OIL) fell 16 cents to 12 cents, Brazauro Resources Corp. (TSX:BZO) a penny to 46 cents; Western Prospector Group (TSXV:WNP) rose 16 cents to 53 cents, Searchgold Resources Inc. (TSXV:RSG) six cents to four cents.

ICE FUTURE CANADA

Closing prices:

Canola: March ’09 $0.80 lower $421.80; May ’09 $1.90 lower $425.90; July ’09 $2.80 lower $430.60; Nov. ’09 $2.60 lower $434.90; Jan. ’10 $2.50 lower $437.90; March ’10 $1.00 lower $441.90; May ’10 $1.00 lower $444.40; July ’10 $1.00 lower $438.30; Nov. ’10 $1.00 lower $438.30; Jan ’11 $1.00 lower $438.30; March ’11 $1.00 lower $438.30.

Barley (Western): March ’09 $2.00 lower $144.00; May ’09 $1.10 lower $151.30; July ’09 $1.10 lower $152.30; Oct. ’09 $1.10 lower $152.30; Dec. ’09 $1.10 lower $152.30; March ’10 $1.10 lower $152.30; May ’10 $1.10 lower $152.30; July ’10 $1.10 lower $152.30; Oct. ’10 $1.10 lower $152.30; Dec. ’10 $1.10 lower $152.30.

Wednesday’s estimated volume of trade: 230,780 tonnes of canola; 25,900 tonnes of barley (Western Barley) Total: 256,680.

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