Toronto stock market lower amid World Bank revisions, Fed economic assessment

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market closed lower Wednesday with traders focusing on global economic conditions in the wake of a cut in the World Bank’s global growth forecast for this year and the latest take on the U.S. economy by the Federal Reserve.

The S&P/TSX composite index lost 33.15 points to 12,608.82 while the TSX Venture Exchange slipped 1.59 points to 1,230.2.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.21 of a cent to 101.41 cents US.

U.S. indexes were mixed with the Dow Jones industrials down 23.66 points to 13,511.23 amid more problems for aircraft maker Boeing.

Boeing stock fell 3.38 per cent to US$74.34 as Japan’s two biggest airlines grounded all their Boeing 787 aircraft for safety checks after one was forced to make an emergency landing in the latest blow for the new jet.

The 787, known as the Dreamliner, is Boeing’s newest and most technologically advanced jet. But since its launch, which came after delays of more than three years, the plane has been plagued by a string of problems, including battery and fuel-leak problems.

The Nasdaq edged up 6.76 points to 3,117.54 while the S&P 500 index added 0.29 of a point to 1,472.63.

The Fed says 12 of its regional banking districts reported “modest or moderate” growth in the final weeks of 2012.

But the Fed also reported that employers in some parts of the country delayed hiring because of uncertainty over the fiscal cliff. Congress and the White House reached a deal on taxes on Jan. 1, but put off decisions on government spending cuts.

Now, there is increasing nervousness about a fight brewing in Washington over raising the U.S. debt ceiling so that the government can keep borrowing money to pay its bills. The U.S. Treasury says it will run out of money to pay all the government’s obligations sometime in February or March if Congress doesn’t raise the current $16.4 trillion limit on borrowing.

Markets were already lacklustre after the World Bank on Tuesday projected that the global economy will expand by 2.4 per cent in 2013, down from a forecast of three per cent growth in June.

“Overall, the global economic environment remains fragile and prone to further disappointment, although the balance of risks is now less skewed to the downside than it has been in recent years,” the World Bank said in its twice-yearly report.

The base metals component led TSX decliners, down 1.62 per cent as the World Bank report raised demand concerns, pushing March copper on the New York Mercantile Exchange down three cents to US$3.61 a pound.

Sid Mokhtari, market technician at CIBC World Markets, noted that the report would not have come as a complete surprise to markets.

“We have to assume that the market tends to price a lot of stuff in ahead of time so by the time it gets published by the World Bank, you would think the majority of those assumptions were priced in,” he said.

“Having said that, the dominant behaviour of the commodities are still on the weaker side. We have to see better data out of China, which has been the case (recently) and maybe another round of better sentiment out of Europe.”

Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) shed 69 cents to C$36.28.

Oil prices were off the lows of the morning as data showed an unexpected drop in U.S. inventories last week. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude supplies declined by one million barrels last week. Analysts polled by Platts expected a 2.5-million-barrel climb.

Energy prices also found lift after Islamist militants attacked and occupied a natural gas complex partly operated by energy company BP in southern Algeria.

February crude was up 96 cents at US$94.24 a barrel and the energy sector was down 0.35 per cent. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) gave back 35 cents to C$28.74.

The gold sector was off about 0.4 per cent while February bullion declined 70 cents to US$1,683.20 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) faded 34 cents to C$33.69.

The TSX tech sector advanced after Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) said the Visa credit card system has approved the smartphone company’s method for handling secure mobile payments. The green light from Visa is a step towards offering global support for any device equipped with the BlackBerry maker’s mobile payments technology and its shares were up 28 cents or 1.96 per cent higher at $14.55.

In other corporate news, Canadian autoparts giant Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG) says it expects between US$31.3 billion and US$32.7 billion of sales globally this year. About half of the 2013 total will come from the sale of parts to North American manufacturing operations.

Its stock added 96 cents to C$52.14.

Meanwhile, there was good news from the American banking sector.

JPMorgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank by assets, says its fourth-quarter earnings shot up 55 per cent over the year to US$5.3 billion or $1.40 a share, far above the $1.16 per share expected by analysts. The stock erased early losses and turned up 47 cents to US$46.82.

Goldman Sachs ran ahead $5.50 to US$141.09 after the U.S. investment bank reported that fourth-quarter net income nearly tripled to US$2.89 billion or $5.60 a share, much higher than the $3.71 that analysts had expected. Net revenue of $9.24 billion beat expectations of $7.98 billion.