U.S. stocks gave up early gains Wednesday as traders balanced positive economic data with concerns about the Federal Reserve cutting back on monetary stimulus.
Canadian stocks were also flat as the initial run of earnings from the big Canadian banks failed to impress and persuaded investors to take some profits from a sharp runup in banks and insurers this year.
The S&P/TSX Composite was down 14.95 points to 13,304.92, while the TSX Venture Exchange edged up 4.23 points to close at 919.52.
Active stocks included Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT, Stock Forum), which was up 1.6% to $38.94 following a New York Times review for its Surface 2 tablet, as well as the EU clearing the way for the Microsoft-Nokia deal.
CF Industries Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CF, Stock Forum), a producer of agricultural fertilizers, saw its shares rise 10.7% to $237.07. Analysts at RBC Capital Markets started coverage of the stock with a sector perform rating and a $235 price target.
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN, Stock Forum) advanced 0.34% to $385.96 amid reports that the company is positioning itself to capitalize on an increasingly mobile U.S. workforce, creating an app that will allow the utilization of its new desktop virtualization service through the iPad at competitive prices.
In Canada, National Bank of Canada (TSX: T.NA, Stock Forum) shares shed early gains and fell 1.5% to $89.53 after it posted $337 million in quarterly net income, adding up to a full-year profit of $1.554 billion. Ex-items, the bank had $370 million of adjusted net income, or $2.09 per share, up eight per cent from $1.93 per share a year earlier, which met expectations. National Bank is also upping its quarterly cash dividend by six per cent to 93 cents and also announced plans for a two-for-one stock split.
Bank of Montreal (TSX: T.BMO, Stock Forum) shares dropped 4.5 per cent Tuesday even as earnings beat expectations. Investors were disappointed with, among other things, weakness in its U.S. operations. BMO shares were down 0.43% to $69.95 Wednesday, while Scotiabank (TSX: T.BNS, Stock Forum) eased 0.76% to $63.70.
Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX: T.ABX, Stock Forum) shares were up 1.3% to $16.72 after the gold mining giant confirmed that Chairman and founder Peter Munk will retire after the company’s next annual meeting. He will be replaced by co-chairman John Thornton. Financier Ned Goodman is among four new nominees for the role of independent directors, the company said.
For news about small stocks that made big moves in Wednesday’s trading, please read the
Stockhouse Canadian Small and Micro-cap Stock Report