Daily Wrap-up: TSX ends higher, economy surprises

TSX ends higher, economy surprises... GDP declined in February, but not as much as expected... Ottawa beats deficit forecast with a month to go... Personal insolvencies up almost 10 per cent...

Steve Randall
TSX ends higher, economy surprises
Canadian equities gained Friday as sentiment was lifted by commodities with oil prices hitting a new 2016 high and gold at its best for 15 months. Better-than-expected GDP in February also helped although the headline figure shows a slight decline.

The stars of the day were Canada and Australia; the rest of the major stocks markets ended the week on a low with Wall Street’s 3 main indexes dropping but managing to gain overall for April; Asian markets lower on reduce sentiment; and European indexes impacted by regional earnings.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 65.02 (0.47 per cent)
The Dow Jones closed down 57.12 (0.32 per cent)
Oil is trending flat (Brent $48.14, WTI $45.96 at 4.20pm)
Gold is trending higher (1296.30 at 4.20pm)
The loonie is valued at U$0.7973
GDP declined in February, but not as much as expected
Canada’s economy declined 0.1 per cent in February, Statistics Canada reported Friday, but the dip was lower than expected. Goods were the drag with services essentially flat.

The figures were not as bad as some analysts had been expecting but were disappointing following 4 months of gains; January had gained 0.9 per cent. The decline in goods was led by manufacturing, mining, quarrying and the extraction of oil and gas.
Ottawa beats deficit forecast with a month to go
The federal government has already beaten the year’s budget deficit forecast, with a month of the year to go. Rather than a $5.4 billion deficit, Ottawa is currently in surplus to the tune of $7.5 billion.

The finance minister Bill Morneau said Friday that there will be expenses and revenues to consider in May which could change the numbers significantly but unless the deficit for the month is more than $13 billion, the overall forecast will have been bettered.
Personal insolvencies up almost 10 per cent
Household debt has been highlighted as a concern again. Consumer insolvencies increased by 9.7 per cent in the past year according to figures from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. Not all of the filings were actual bankruptcies, although they were up 6.3 per cent; the alternative ‘consumer proposals’ gained 13.2 per cent.