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Stocks Falter at Open

UnitedHealth, Intel in Focus

Equities in Canada’s largest centre opened lower on Wednesday, dragged by healthcare and materials stocks, while investors assessed mixed bank earnings and awaited economic data from the United States and Canada.

The TSX Composite deleted 42.5 points to 21,276.40.

The Canadian dollar fell 0.18 cents to 73.72 cents U.S.

Investors continue to parse quarterly earnings from big banks in Canada as Royal Bank of Canada reported a lower first-quarter profit on Wednesday, hurt by bigger provisions for loans. Shares in Canada’s largest bank plunged 89 cents to $132.11.

However, the National Bank of Canada reported a higher first-quarter profit as robust performance at its financial markets unit cushioned the hit from an increase in loan loss provisions. National shares stepped back 84 cents, or 1.3%, to $65.06.

On the economic slate, payroll numbers came out from Statistics Canada. They showed employees receiving pay and benefits from their employer—measured as "payroll employment" in the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours—increased in number by 31,600 in December. Yearly, payroll employment jumped 223,500.


The TSX Venture Exchange gained 5.49 points, or 1%, to 555.72.

All 12 subgroups were down, with information technology off 1%, real-estate lower 0.8%, and communications sinking 0.7%.

The two gainers proved to be energy, inching up 0.3%, and financials, collecting 0.2%.


Stocks ticked lower Wednesday as investors looked ahead to a key inflation report due later this week.

The Dow Jones Industrials stumbled 154.38 points soon after Wednesday’s open to 38,818.03.

The S&P 500 dropped 12.47 points to 5,065.71.

The NASDAQ index slid 85.26 points to 15,950.04.

UnitedHealth lost more than 5% to lead the Dow lower. Intel gave back 1.5%, while Nike was also down 0.7%. Elsewhere, Urban Outfitters fell nearly 10% after reporting weaker-than-expected results for the fourth quarter.

Investors are looking toward the personal consumption expenditure reading for January on Thursday, which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation.

The report will come as the market tries to build on the gains that took the Dow and S&P 500 to record highs. This week, the market has struggled, however, pulling back slightly.

Prices for the 10-year Treasury inched forward, lowering yields to 4.29% from Tuesday’s 4.31%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices jumped 45 cents to $79.32 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices dropped $3.40 to $2,040.70.