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TSX closes little changed after modest gain, traders look to Fed chair comments

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed little changed Monday as traders looked for direction following volatile trading last week.

The S&P/TSX composite index edged up 7.68 points to 13,794.18, as traders also took in acquisition activity over the weekend while the Canadian dollar fell 0.13 of a cent to 90.46 cents US.

U.S. indexes generally eked out minor gains as the Dow Jones industrials rose 7.71 points to 15,801.79, the Nasdaq was ahead 22.31 points to 4,148.17 and the S&P 500 climbed 2.82 points to 1,799.84.

The TSX and the Dow both advanced about 0.6 per cent last week as the U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 6.6 per cent from 6.7 per cent — the lowest rate since the global financial crisis hit in late 2008 — even as labour force participation increased.

But on the way to that gain, markets were volatile amid discouraging manufacturing data from the U.S. and China. There was also nervousness about the problems some emerging markets are having in adapting to a world no longer awash in cheap money courtesy of stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

"We’re lacking a bit of direction," said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.

"The data will, in fits and starts, provide some of that direction but we had the big decline (early) last week, we had a rally and got everything condensed into a couple of trading days and now the market is taking a step back."

Analysts thought Friday's jobs data was strong enough to allow the Fed to continue reducing its bond purchases. It has already cut its purchase to $65 billion a month, down $20 billion, and analysts generally expect the Fed to continue to taper at $10 billion a meeting.

Despite that expectation, investors are also looking ahead to comments from the new Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen, before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday for any hint at a change in policy.

The TSX gold sector ran ahead about 3.33 per cent in advance of earnings from several major miners this week while April gold rose $11.80 to US$1,274.70 an ounce.

Yamana Gold (TSX:YRI) shares climbed 67 cents, or 6.63 per cent, to C$10.78 as it said it expects its combined gold and silver output this year will be 16 per cent above 2013’s level, while its cash costs per ounce remain relatively stable.

The base metals sector was up 0.16 per cent with March copper down one cent at US$3.22 a pound.

The energy sector was the leading decliner, down 0.62 per cent even as March crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange edged 18 cents higher to US$100.06 a barrel, its highest close this year.

On the corporate front, International Forest Products Ltd. (TSX:IFP.A) shares jumped 10.92 per cent to C$16.86 as the Vancouver-based company moved to acquire a Georgia lumber business in a US$180-million deal with Ilim Timber Continental SA.

HudBay Minerals Inc. (TSX:HBM) is out to acquire all the shares of Augusta Resources Corp. (TSX:AZC) that it doesn't already own in a cash and stock deal worth about some $540 million. August’s prime asset is its Rosemont copper deposit in Arizona.

HudBay is offering 0.315 of a share for each Augusta share. HudBay stock fell 57 cents to C$8.83 on Monday, while Augusta shares rocketed more than 27 per cent, or 69 cents, to $3.20, well above the implied price of $2.96 a share when the offer was made.

The Canadian Press


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