TSX closes higher as banks gain
Canada’s banks helped boost the main TSX index Tuesday as talk turned to a US interest rate rise for March.
The financial sector’s heavy weighting on the index combined with gains for six other groups led by IT. Materials was another gainer as gold continued to offer shelter for investors.
The laggards included utilities, industrials and – most notably – energy, which was off by almost 1.5 per cent as oil prices headed lower amid a rising dollar and weaker gasoline demand.
Wall Street joined the TSX in positive territory with the Dow and Nasdaq hitting fresh highs while the S&P500 was flat. Europe’s main indexes were generally higher while Asian bourses went the other way.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 41.86 (0.27 per cent)
The Dow Jones closed up 37.87 (0.19 per cent)
Oil is trending lower (Brent $54.92, WTI $51.75 at 4.40pm)
Gold is trending higher (1235.00 at 4.40pm)
The loonie is valued at U$0.7594
Energy products drive merchandise sales to surplus
Canada’s merchandise trade balance with the rest of the world was in surplus for the second consecutive month in December, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.
The surplus narrowed to $923 million from a revised $1 billion in November with imports up 0.8 per cent as energy products gained, while imports were up 1 per cent, largely due to aircraft and industrial machinery.
However in volume terms, exports fell 1.4 per cent while imports gained 0.4 per cent and the trade surplus was narrowed to $2.1 billion in December from $2.9 billion in November.
Imports to the US were up just 0.2 per cent while the rest of the world bought 2.6 per cent more in dollar terms with Switzerland and Spain leading the gains.
WestJet profits hit turbulence
There was a bumpy ride for WestJet in 2016 as its costs increased and profits landed 19.6 per cent lower than 2015 at $295.5 million, $2.45 per diluted share.
The previous year’s net income had been a record high for the firm at $367.5 million ($2.92 per share) but operating costs were up 6.4 per cent year-over-year, while revenue was up 2.32 per cent to $4.12 billion.
Fourth quarter results for the Calgary-based airline show improvement in revenue (up 6.2 per cent to $1.02 billion) but also higher costs (up 10.2 per cent) meaning net income of $55.2 million, down 12.9 per cent from the same period of 2015.