Daily Wrap-up: TSX ends higher, oil up on talks speculation

TSX ends higher, oil up on talks speculation... Economy downgraded again by CIBC... Wages up just 1.4 per cent in a year... Potash Corp. makes first ever dividend cut... Penn West to cut capital spending by 90 per cent...

Steve Randall
TSX ends higher, oil up on talks speculation
Equities headed higher Thursday amid speculation that OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers could be contemplating talks to support oil prices. The potential for talks was prompted by a Russian official although some experts have dismissed the comments as rhetoric. Oil prices climbed.

The main index of the Toronto Stock Exchange closed higher as energy firms led the gains and the main Wall Street indexes also closed higher.

In Asia, markets had closed mixed earlier in the day; European markets closed lower as corporate earnings weighed.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 214.2 (1.73 per cent)
The Dow Jones closed up 125.2 (0.79 per cent)
Oil is trending higher (Brent $34.43, WTI $33.71 at 4.20pm)
Gold is trending lower (1114.30 at 4.20pm)
The loonie is valued at U$0.7117
Economy downgraded again by CIBC
The Canadian economy will grow by 1.3 per cent in 2016 according to CIBC World Markets’ chief economist Avery Shenfeld. It’s the second downgraded outlook from the firm this month, the previous estimate was 1.7 per cent. Since then oil prices and equities have shown volatility and the Canadian dollar has been losing value. These are “unusual times” Shenfeld said. A Bloomberg survey of economists currently forecasts 1.8 per cent growth.
Wages up just 1.4 per cent in a year
Non-farm payroll employees saw little increase in their weekly wages in November with a rise of just $2 compared to October. The weekly $953 is a 1.4 per cent increase on wages a year earlier. Working hours showed little change month-over-month and year-over-year at 32.9. Those in administrative and support services saw the largest annual increases, up 5.2 per cent. Earnings across all sectors gained year-over-year in eight provinces, led by PEI; Alberta and Saskatchewan saw lower wages.
Potash Corp. makes first ever dividend cut
Potash Corp. shareholders will receive a 34 per cent lower dividend, or 25 cents; it’s the first time the Saskatchewan firm has ever cut dividends. Fertilizer and potash prices in the fourth quarter were lower than expected, hitting earnings which, at $201 million, were less than half that of the same period in 2014. 
Penn West to cut capital spending by 90 per cent
The capital budget at Penn West has been cut to 10 per cent of its 2015 level in a bid to cut costs amid the oil rout. The budget will be $50 million and the firm will be cutting production and closing wells. Around 35 per cent of the Calgary firm’s workforce were cut last year.