By Warangkana Chomchuen
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Canadian stocks bounced back from sharp losses on Wednesday as data showing continued improvement in the U.S. job market and stabilizing commodities prices helped ease selling pressure.
ADP: U.S. job market picks up steam
Michael Casey has details of ADP's payroll report, showing continued growth in the job market. AP Photo
The S&P/TSX Composite Index added 20.82 points to 12,319.45. The Canadian benchmark ended Tuesday down 225.32 points, or 1.8%, to 12,298.63.
Equities in the technology sector gained 0.9%, with shares of Wi-LAN Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208205067/delayed CA:WIN 0.00% , a patent-licensing company, jumping 8.5% on a quarterly dividend hike and strong earnings for its fiscal year.
The S&P/TSX Capped Energy Index /zigman2/quotes/210598495/delayed XX:TORGC187 +1.32% edged up 0.3%. PetroBakken Energy shares climbed 7.2% after the oil firm said its fourth-quarter production rose about 16% and it raised its 2012 exit production forecast.
The mining sector /zigman2/quotes/210598474/delayed XX:TORGC195 +0.31% recouped Tuesday declines as commodities prices stabilized. Shares of Inmet Mining Corp. increased 2.3% and Great Basin Gold rose 8.7%.
Among the bigger losers, the S&P/TSX Capped Health Care Index /zigman2/quotes/210598485/delayed XX:TORGC191 -2.38% fell almost 1%, pressured by a 7.3% decline of Nordion Inc. shares. The health-sciences company reported a net loss and a 18% drop in revenues in its fiscal first quarter report on Tuesday.
In the financial sector, Bank of Nova Scotia /zigman2/quotes/206642548/delayed CA:BNS +0.22% shares decreased 1%. The bank said Wednesday it agreed to buy U.S.-based energy investment boutique Howard Weil Inc. but didn’t disclose the price.
Quebec-based Laurentian Bank of Canada /zigman2/quotes/209831927/delayed CA:LB -0.27% reported a lower-than-expected earnings and 16% decrease in profit in first-quarter earnings Wednesday and saw its shares dipped falling 1.4%.
Shares of apparel maker Lululemon Athletica /zigman2/quotes/203839209/delayed CA:LLL +19.05% were up 2.8% after Credit Suisse lifted its target to US$78 from US$58 a share while raising its rating on Lululemon to outperform from neutral. Stifel Nicolaus and D.A. Davidson also boosted the company’s target price.
Air Canada shares declined 2%. The airline said it received a strike notice for Monday from the union representing about 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents. Canada’s largest air carrier could face a major disruption from the strike just as March break, a peak school-holiday travel period, gets underway.
U.S. markets were also higher following a report from Automatic Data Processing Inc. that the U.S. private sector created 216,000 jobs in February, slightly above the 215,000 estimated by economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.
In Canada, building permits in January were weaker than expected, falling by 12%, while housing affordability improved.
The Bank of Canada is expected Thursday to keep its key interest rate at 1%.
“The policymakers are likely to refrain from tightening rates amid lingering concerns over the Eurozone debt crisis, which poses significant risks to the economy,” according to a research note from ICICI Bank.
In currency trading, Canadian dollar firmed against the U.S. greenback /zigman2/quotes/210561978/realtime/sampled USDCAD +0.0243% , with one U.S. dollar buying C$0.9992 from C$1.0015 late Tuesday.
ICICI Bank said improvement in risk sentiment and an uptick in crude oil prices should help the loonie to trade bullish. The Canadian currency has gained around 1.26% against the U.S. dollar in February, the bank said.