TSX gains on Alimentation Couche-Tard, Valeant but loonie loses 0.56 cents U.S.
TMX Group tickers zoom across banners in Toronto on May 10, 2013. (Frank Gunn / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Linda Nguyen, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, August 22, 2016 6:22AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 22, 2016 6:51PM EDT
TORONTO -- North American stock markets teetered back and forth for most of Monday's session as traders resisted making any major moves ahead of a highly-anticipated speech by the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index gained 60.73 points at 14,748.19, helped by rising shares in Alimentation Couche-Tard and Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
Both Quebec companies announced major news that investors took positively.
Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B), Canada's largest convenience store operator, announced a US$4.4-billion friendly acquisition of Texas-based CST Brands. The company that owns the Mac's and Couche-Tard convenience store chains said the purchase would expand its network by of more than 2,000 locations in the U.S. and Eastern Canada.
Its shares rose more than seven per cent, or $4.63, to close at $66.78 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (TSX:VRX) said it was replacing its chief financial officer in news that sent its shares soaring by nearly 10 per cent. The announcement was the latest in a round of changes at the drugmaker, which is the focus of at least 11 investigations in the U.S. and Canada, and a number of class-action lawsuits. Its shares closed up $3.59 to $40.55.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 23.15 points at 18,529.42 and the broader S&P 500 composite index dipped 1.23 points to 2,182.64. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 6.22 points at 5,244.60.
Investors are looking ahead to what U.S. Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen will say Friday following the central bank's annual summer gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Analysts are most interested in what Yellen's tone will be, and whether she will provide any indications on when the bank would raise interest rates. It's expected she will express caution but support the impression that a hike may be on the table for later this year.
"The markets are really hopeful that we'll get a tremendous amount of clarity from the commentary," said Craig Fehr, a Canadian markets strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.
"I think instead what we will get is a little more colour from the Fed on what it is really looking at and the way they interpret the data. But I don't think we'll get any sort of decisive conclusion from the commentary that there is a rate hike coming or not coming in the next few meetings."
The Fed can make a move on rates as early as its next meeting next month, but most believe it will wait until at least December following the U.S. presidential election.
Back north of the border, energy prices weighed on the loonie. The Canadian dollar was 0.56 of a U.S. cent lower at 77.22 cents US, while the October crude contract lost $1.70 at US$47.41 per barrel.
Other commodities were mostly lower with the December gold contract falling $2.80 to US$1,343.40 an ounce and September copper contracts down three cents to US$2.14 a pound. September natural gas gained 10 cents at US$2.68 per mmBTU.