Markets in North America tantalized investors Wednesday by pointing toward positive readings, but ended the day below breakeven, mostly due to real-estate and utility issues, after two strong days of gains to begin the week.
The TSX Composite came off its lows of the day, but still dropped 103.16 points to close Wednesday at 19,267.83.
The Canadian dollar doffed half a cent to 73.53 cents U.S.
Real-estate companies bore the brunt of investor indifference, as Artis REIT units fell 40 cents, or 4.1%, to $9.44, while Colliers International Group docked $4.78. or 3.5%, to $132.62.
In utilities, Boralex surrendered $2.05, or 4.5%, to $43.53, while Innergex Renewables slid $1.01, or 5.6%, to $17.13.
In communications, Corus Entertainment slipped seven cents, or 2.8%, to $2.43, while Rogers ducked $1.43, or 2.6%, to $53.34.
In the energy field, NuVista surged 65 cents, or 5.8%, to $11.87, while Peyto Exploration hiked 62 cents, or 5.2%, to $12.55.
Consumer discretionary did well, too, as Canada Goose Holdings sprinted $10.82, or 3.6%, to $23.65, while Park Lawn Corporation took on 26 cents, or 1.1%, to $24.03.
On the economic slate, Statistics Canada announced building permits increased 11.9% in August to $12.5 billion. Both the residential sector (+12.0% to $8.4 billion) and non-residential sector (+11.8% to $4.0 billion) saw strong gains, with Ontario causing much of the increase.
Also in August, Canada's merchandise exports decreased 2.9%, while imports fell 1.7%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade surplus with the world narrowed from $2.4 billion in July to $1.5 billion in August. This is the lowest monthly trade surplus observed to date in 2022.
The TSX Venture Exchange moved doggedly into positive ground, 0.1 points to close the midweek session at 623.33.
All but two of the 12 TSX subgroups remained in the red, as real-estate and utilities each tumbled 1.7%, and communications backpedaled 1.4%.
The two gainers proved to be energy, improving 2.3%, and consumer discretionary stocks, better by 0.3%.
U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday as Wall Street failed to hold on to the sharp gains from the last two sessions.
The Dow Jones Industrials flirted with the green near the end of the session, but lost 42.45 points to close Wednesday at 30,273.87.
The S&P 500 docked 7.65 points to 3,783.28.
The NASDAQ Composite dropped 27.77 points to 11,148.64.
Major averages jumped off the lows in afternoon trading Wednesday, led by energy names Exxon Mobil and Halliburton, which both rallied more than 4%.
Semiconductors, the industry that came under pressure earlier, traded off their lows. Qualcomm rose 1.5%, driving the comeback in the sector.
Meanwhile, Nike jumped 2% in afternoon trading, leading consumer stocks higher
Private payrolls increased by 208,000, ADP said in its latest report, topping a Dow Jones estimate. Traders are still looking ahead to Friday’s release of the non-farm payrolls report.
The U.S. trade deficit fell slightly more than expected in August to its lowest level in more than a year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Wednesday.
The trade shortfall declined to $67.4 billion, a $3.1 billion drop from the previous month that was a bit better than the Dow Jones estimate of $67.7 billion. That marked the lowest level since May 2021. In March 2022, the deficit had hit a record $106.9 billion.
Treasury prices stumbled, lifting yields to 3.75% from Tuesday’s 3.64%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite direction.
Oil prices recovered $1.54 to $88.06 U.S. a barrel.
Gold prices faltered $4.10 to $1,726.40 U.S. an ounce.