TSX lower ahead of Fed announcement

The Toronto stock market was down shortly before midday Wednesday as gold stocks turned lower while investors await a statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve later in the day.The S&P/TSX composite index was off 49.20 points to 11,615.51 and the TSX Venture Exchange lost 1.80 points to 1,181.28.The Canadian dollar was up 0.15 of a cent to 99.86 cents US.Gold stocks led the downside of the TSX, off 1.5 per cent, as August gold fell $7.50 to US$1,603 an ounce. September copper moved down 4.5 cents to US$3.369 a pound.The Fed will wrap up its two-day meeting this afternoon. A big question has been whether the U.S. central bank announces or signals new stimulus for the world’s No. 1 economy.The European Central Bank meets Thursday, and expectations have been high. Last week, ECB president Mario Draghi said the bank “is ready to do what it takes to preserve the euro,” which set off speculation about significant moves, though that optimism has since lost much of its steam.“Basically you’ve seen a rally in the markets because of expectations of central banks globally doing some easing,” said Chris Kuflik, wealth adviser at ScotiaMcLeod in Montreal. “Short term, if we don’t get it or it’s not good enough, markets will respond negatively.”On Wall Street, traders digested the latest economic data that showed U.S. manufacturing shrank for the second straight month in July.The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said its index of manufacturing activity ticked up to 49.8, from 49.7 in June, further evidence of an economy growing at a sluggish paceThe Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.53 points to 13,049.21 and the broader S&P inches up 3.6 points to 1,382.92. Nasdaq was up 1.56 points at 2,941.08.Payroll provider ADP said U.S. businesses added 163,000 jobs last month. The report comes two days before the government releases its jobs numbers for July, and a subdued market reaction to the surprise figures suggested that people were holding their optimism in check until the full employment report comes out Friday.The September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange lifted 45 cents to US$88.51 a barrel.In corporate developments, WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA) says it will hike its quarterly dividend to shareholders by 33 per cent as second-quarter profits hit a record $42.5 million or 31 cents per share. Revenue was up 12.2 per cent to $809.3 million. Shares dropped 40 cents, to $16.18.Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) reported a sharp fall in its second-quarter profit and revenue due to weaker commodity prices and higher operating costs. The Calgary-based company posted net income of US$196 million, or 19 cents per share, from $698 million, or 68 cents per share. Revenue declined to $1.87 billion from $2.23 billion. Company shares were up 17 cents to $12.57.Maple Leaf Foods Inc. (TSX:MFI) reported net income was $32.5 million in the second quarter, up 32 per cent from $24.6 million in the second quarter of 2011. Total sales from Maple Leaf’s four business groups edged up to $1.26 billion from $1.24 billion. Its shares rose 40 cents to $10.40.Torstar Corp. (TSX:TS.B) earned $35.7 million or 45 cents per share in the second quarter, from $112.7 million or $1.42 per share a year earlier, though that included $74.6 million or 94 cents per share from the sale of Torstar’s investment in CTV Inc. Shares were down 50 cents to $8.60.In Europe, France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.95 per cent to 3,323 and Germany’s DAX was flat at 6,771.54. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 1.4 per cent at 5,711.36.Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average closed down 0.6 per cent at 8,641.85 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.1 per cent to 19,820.38. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2 per cent to 4,262.80. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.1 per cent to 1,879.93. Markets in Indonesia and India also fell while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.9 per cent to 2,123.36. read more