Markets go negative despite higher commodities

TORONTO -- North American equity markets turned negative Wednesday, unable to sustain the strong rallies of the previous day despite higher commodity prices and an encouraging report on the U.S.

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jobs market.

At mid-afternoon, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 18.01 points at 12,964.09 as Canada's main market faltered after a 121-point gain on Tuesday.

In New York, indexes were also weak despite a report from payroll processor ADP that private American employers added a healthy 214,000 jobs in February.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 10.28 points at 16,854.80 while the broader S&P 500 added just 0.96 of a point to 1,979.31 and Nasdaq composite shed 5.15 points to 4,684.45.

On commodity markets, the April contract for benchmark U.S. crude edged up three cents to US$34.43 a barrel, while April gold added $11.10 to US$1,241.90 a troy ounce and copper rose three cents to US$2.17 a pound. April natural gas was down four cents at US$1.70 per mmBtu.

The Canadian dollar declined 0.18 of a U.S. cent to 74.37 cents US. That came as the greenback strengthened against most major currencies amid renewed expectations of a rate hike by the Federal Reserve as a result of recent indications of strength in the U.S. economy.

Overseas, Germany's DAX climbed 0.6 per cent and France's CAC added 0.4 per cent, while Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 per cent after asset manager BlackRock warned that if the U.K. votes to leave European Union, the economy will be "worse off."

In Asia, a weak yen added to investor optimism, sending Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 up 4.1 per cent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 3.1 per cent.



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