By Warangkana Chomchuen
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Canadian stocks posted a modest gain on Tuesday as consumer confidence stayed strong, while higher gold and metal prices sent equities in miners group rising.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index added 37.64 points to 12,738.02.
Shares of miners edged up as prices of gold and metal rose. The S&P/TSX Capped Materials Index /zigman2/quotes/210598474/delayed XX:TORGC195 +3.34% gained 1.2%. Gold Corp. Inc. /zigman2/quotes/225792379/delayed CA:G +2.86% rose 2.2% and Silver Corp Metals Inc.
Oil backs off highs, still threatens
WSJ's Steven Russolillo has the morning's markets report, including a look at oil prices. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
/zigman2/quotes/210397281/delayed CA:SVM +4.24% increased 4%.
Thompson Creek Metals dropped 13% on its earnings report. The mining company was downgraded by Credit Suisse to neutral from outperform.
The Canadian benchmark was pulled by a 2.5% loss in the S&P/TSX Capped Industrial Index /zigman2/quotes/210598464/delayed XX:TORGC193 +1.01% , with shares of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208720157/delayed CA:SNC +1.69% plunging 21%.
The engineering and construction firm expected its 2011 earnings to be 18%, or C$80 million, below its own forecast, including C$23 million loss related to Libyan projects and about C$35 million of undocumented expenses.
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The energy group /zigman2/quotes/210598495/delayed XX:TORGC187 +2.68% advanced slightly by 0.2% as oil prices fell. Calfrac Well Services Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202132416/delayed CA:CFW +1.53% jumped 12% after the oil and gas company boosted its dividend and posted a nearly fivefold jump in its fourth-quarter earnings. Suncor Energy Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204570600/delayed CA:SU +3.02% edged up 0.8%.
Shares of Canadian major banks were mostly up. Bank of Montreal /zigman2/quotes/203180563/delayed CA:BMO +1.33% edged up 0.8% after the fourth largest bank by assets reported a 34% increase in its quarterly earnings.
In the U.S., Commerce Department reported a 4% drop in orders for durable goods in January, reversing a 3.2% gain in December.
The Case-Shiller home-price index in December fell 1.1%, marking its lowest level since the housing crisis. Read more about U.S. home prices.
However, a gauge of U.S. consumer confidence rose to 70.8 in February on more optimistic job market prospects, the best reading in a year, according to the Conference Board. Read more about U.S. consumer confidence.
Analysts believed that market sentiment in the coming days will be determined by the European Central Bank’s second offer of long-term refinancing operation on Wednesday.
“More likely, traders may elect to wait for tomorrow’s second ECB allocation of LTRO financing for banks and Thursday’s manufacturing PMI numbers before committing to a direction,” Colin Cieszynski, market analyst of CMC Markets Canada, said in his note.
In currency trading, the commodity-sensitive Canadian dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561978/realtime/sampled USDCAD -0.5901% strengthened against the U.S. greenback, with one U.S. dollar buying C$0.9959 from C$0.9977 on late Monday.