At midday: TSX flat as consumer stocks offset resources, Wall Street hits highs

Canada’s main stock index were flat on Friday as declines in energy and mining stocks were partially offset by gains in other sectors, led by consumer discretionary and consumer staples companies.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 5.59 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 15,178.31.

The three major Wall Street indexes inched up to record highs on Friday, with the S&P approaching the 2,500 mark, as technology stocks bounced back after two days of declines.

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The Dow Jones industrial average was up 39.67 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 22,243.15 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 16.92 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 6,446.00.

The S&P 500 was up 1.44 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 2,497.06. It went tantalizingly close to 2,500, hitting a session high of 2,499.25.

In Toronto, half of the index’s 10 main groups retreated.

Together, energy and materials, which include mining and other resource firms, make up roughly a third of the index’s weight. The energy group retreated 0.7 per cent, though individual stock moves were more modest.

Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. fell 0.5 per cent and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. was down 0.6 per cent. The two miners were among the most influential drags on the index, while the overall materials group lost 0.08 per cent.

Metal prices were down, with bullion falling on global central bank prospects, while copper prices were on track for their biggest weekly fall since December, in part on profit-taking.

The heavily-weighted banks slipped 0.03 per cent.

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The Stars Group, formerly known as gaming company Amaya, saw shares jump 9.3 per cent after it raised its 2017 outlook and announced an additional debt prepayment. The broader consumer discretionary group rose 0.8 per cent.

Consumer staples added 0.6 per cent. Healthcare stocks advanced 0.2 per cent.

In New York, the technology sector jumped 0.35 percent, powered by an Nvidia-led surge in chipmakers and Apple’s 1.33 per cent increase, its first gains since the launch of the new iPhones.

The semiconductor index surged 1.6 per cent, boosted by Nvidia’s near 6 per cent jump to a record high after Evercore ISI raised its price target on the stock.

The tech index has been the best performing sector this year, rising more than 25 per cent, far outpacing the broader S&P’s 11.5 per cent growth.

Reports showing an unexpected drop in U.S. retail sales last month and the first drop in industrial output since January, both in part due to the impact of Hurricane Harvey, were also largely shrugged off by the market.

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“Investors are keeping an eye on the retail sales data, thinking it maybe transitory and are focusing on growth areas such as technology, which is mostly immune to policy decisions in DC and has avoided all the global noise,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director of institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

The indexes have inched up to several records this year, despite setbacks caused by turmoil in the White House, doubts about President Donald Trump’s ability to push through his pro-business reforms, uncertainty over the timing of rate hikes, and lately, tensions over Pyongyang’s missile tests.

Earlier, North Korea fired a second missile in as many weeks over Japan, drawing criticism from global leaders but barely moving shares as investors await the next catalyst – the Federal Reserve’s meeting on Sept. 19-20.

“We’re going to remain in this sideways situation for an extended period of time until we get real regulatory reform, real tax reform, some sort of economic push on infrastructure of healthcare,” said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management in New York.

Boeing hit a record high, powering the Dow for the second day in a row, after a price target hike from Canaccord Genuity and new orders wins.

Among the laggards was Oracle, which sank 6.68 per cent, headed for its worst day in more than four years, after disappointing forecasts for its profit and cloud business.

Reuters

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