Canadian Stocks Fail to Find Direction

Japan's traders stayed on the sidelines after U.S. rate cut; Vodafone pulls down U.K. shares

Canadian stocks closed mixed in directionless trading. The TSE 300 fell 34.17 to 9287.70 after falling 26.49 Wednesday. The S&P/TSE 60 fell 3.46 to 551.38. Breadth was 781-471 positive. Shares in financial services, oil and gas, gold and precious minerals, and metals and minerals outperformed the industrial products, utilities, and consumer products sectors. Government of Canada bonds remained firmer after rallying Wednesday on the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank's 50-basis point rate cut. The March Canadian dollar settled higher at 66.95 cents against the U.S. dollar. March crude oil settled up $1.16 at $29.82. February gold settled up $2.90 at $268.50.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 0.5% lower at 13,780. That's down a hefty 29% year-on-year. The broader TOPIX eased 0.1% to 1,299 while the yield on the benchmark 10-year JGB followed the equity market south, dipping one basis point to 1.485%. Doubts over the feasibility of the slew of stock-boosting measures announced Wednesday continued to keep crucial foreign investors at bay, as did mounting pessimism over the health of corporate Japan following an S&P report that warned of more credit defaults by Japanese companies this year.

The Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index, which lost 37 points Wednesday, finished Thursday's session with a loss of 45.70 points (-0.73%) to close at 6251.80. The biggest contributors to the decline in the FTSE were Vodafone (VOD ) and banks. Vodafone is suffering from fears of slower growth in wireless telephones.

In Germany, the DAX Index, which rose 56 points Wednesday, fell 74 to 6721 following a EuroZone Q3 growth estimate, which was lowered to 0.6% from 0.7%. Also, polls show that a majority of German states oppose the government's pension reform plans. Bonds rose a bit higher, with the 10-year yield down to 4.78% from 4.79% Wednesday; there was little reaction to the Fed's rate cut Wednesday. The euro is higher against the dollar. In Paris, the CAC 40, which rose 81 points Wednesday, fell 108 to 5890 as French PMI slipped to 52.7 in January from 52.9 in December. Bonds climbed slightly, with the 10-year yield down to 4.92% from 4.93% Wednesday.

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