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Before the Bell: TSX futures flat ahead of trade data

The Before the Bell report is compiled by editors of The Globe and Mail and is updated throughout the morning to reflect latest developments. Colin Cieszynski, Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Market Technician, is chief market strategist with CMC Markets.

Stocks, commodities and currencies have been holding steady overnight‎. U.S. index futures are down 0.1 per cent while the FTSE and DAX are flat.

Currencies are holding steady against the U.S. dollar, indicating Fed and political risk speculation has been fully priced in for now. The British pound is underperforming slightly ahead of today's Third Reading of the Brexit bill in the House of Lords.

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Although the recent advance in stocks has slowed, so far indexes have been pausing rather than selling off. This suggests that new capital coming in from the sidelines chasing the rally is still enough to offset profit-taking by earlier entrants for the time being.

In energy trading, West Texas Intermediate crude oil is up 0.3 per cent but Natural Gas has been slammed for a 2.2-per-cent loss. Another warm spell in consuming markets suggests that the end of a soft demand heating season could be arriving early in some areas.

Today traders may pay some attention to trade numbers for the U.S. and Canada, plus China tonight, which could have political implications. Health care stocks may also be active as traders sort out the winners and losers from the Republicans' health care plan.

Statistics Canada said  Canada posted a third consecutive monthly trade surplus in January for the first time in more than two years as exports in the crucial auto sector rebounded. South of the border, , the U.S. trade deficit jumped in January to the highest level in nearly five years as a flood of mobile phones and other consumer products widened America's trade gap with China.

Now, here is a closer look at key market data, and corporate and economic news.

MARKET DATA:

Futures (as of about 8:00 a.m. ET)

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Dow -0.11 per cent; S&P 500 -0.14 per cent; Nasdaq: -0.14 per cent; TSX 60 +0.03 per cent

Equities
Japan's Nikkei -0.18 per cent
Shanghai composite index +0.27 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng +0.36 per cent 
Germany's DAX +0.02 per cent
London's FTSE +0.06 per cent
France's CAC 40 -0.34 per cent

Commodities
WTI crude oil (Nymex April) +0.36 per cent at $53.39 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex April) -0.12 per cent at $1,224.00  (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex May) -0.58 per cent at $2.64 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies
Canadian dollar +0.03 at 74.56 cents (U.S.)
U.S. dollar index +0.00 at 101.54

Bonds
Canada 10-year bond yield 0.00 at 1.70 per cent

KEY ECONOMIC RELEASES

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China foreign direct investment and trade surplus
Germany factory orders
Euro Area real GDP
U.K. upper house votes on Article 50

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(8:30 a.m. ET) Canada merchandise trade surplus for January. Estimate is $750-million, down from $922-million in December.

Canada posted a third consecutive monthly trade surplus in January for the first time in more than two years as exports in the crucial auto sector rebounded, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday. The $807-million surplus slightly exceeded analysts' forecasts of a $700-million positive balance. Statscan revised December's surplus sharply lower to $447-million from an initial $923-million. The last time Canada recorded trade surpluses for three months in a row was the period between July and September, 2014.

In January, exports rose by 0.5 percent while volumes expanded by 1.0 percent. Exports of motor vehicles and parts rose by 7.7 percent after falling by 6.7 percent in December while shipments of canola jumped by 38.4 percent on demand from China. Imports slipped by 0.3 percent on lower imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products. Exports to the United States, which accounted for 74.6 percent of all Canadian exports in January, grew by 2.3 percent while imports rose by 0.3 percent. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States grew to C$4.52 billion from C$3.82 billion in December.

**
(8:30 a.m. ET) U.S. goods and services trade deficit for January. Consensus is $47.5-billion, up from $44.3-billion in December.

The U.S. trade deficit jumped in January to the highest level in nearly five years as a flood of mobile phones and other consumer products widened America's trade gap with China. The figure underscores the challenges facing President Donald Trump in fulfilling a campaign pledge to reduce America's trade deficits.

The Commerce Department says the deficit in January rose 9.6 per cent to $48.5 billion, up from a December deficit of $44.3 billion. It was the largest monthly gap since a deficit of $50.2 billion in March, 2012. U.S. exports edged up a slight 0.6 per cent to $192.1 billion, helped by stronger auto sales. But the export gain was swamped by a 2.3 per cent surge in imports, led by mobile phones, oil and foreign-made cars.
**

(10 a.m. ET) Canada Ivey PMI for February.
(3 p.m. ET) U.S. consumer credit for January. Consensus is an increase of $19-billion from December.

KEY STOCKS TO WATCH

Also see: Tuesday's small-cap stocks to watch

**

Veteran railroader and cost-cutter Hunter Harrison is taking charge at CSX Corp. (CSX-Q). The Florida-based railway said Monday night Mr. Harrison is the company's new chief executive officer, effective immediately. Its shares were off 0.9 per cent in premarket trading.

**

The Brookfield group of companies is poised to expand its renewable energy holdings through a pair of deals to acquire control of TerraForm Power (TERP-Q) and TerraForm Global (GLBL-Q) for a total of about $500-million (U.S.). Brookfield Renewable Partners LP (BEP.UN-T) would buy 100 per cent of TerraForm Global and 51 per cent of TerraForm Power, which would remain a Nasdaq-listed company.

**

Newly minted shares of Snapchat owner Snap Inc. (SNAP-N) fell 3.6 percent to $22.91 in premarket trading after a group representing large institutional investors asked stock index providers to bar the company and others who sell non-voting shares from their stock benchmarks.

**

Dish Network (DISH-Q) was up 5 percent at $64.30 after the satellite TV company would join the S&P 500 effective next week.

**

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS-N) earned an adjusted $1.32 per share for its latest quarter, 2 cents a share above estimates. Revenue came in slightly above forecasts. But its current-quarter forecasts were below expectations and its shares fell 3.2 per cent in premarket trading.

**

U.S. truck maker Navistar International Corp. (NAV-N) reported a much wider-than-expected quarterly loss on continued industry weakness but said its new product line positioned it well for an expected market rebound in the second half of 2017. It lost 40 cents per share, less than the 45-cent loss expected by analysts. Its shares fell 2.9 per cent in premarket trading.

**

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE-N) said it would buy data storage provider Nimble Storage Inc. (NMBL-N) for $1.09 billion in cash, as part of the company's focus on the fast-growing hybrid IT market. Hewlett Packard's shares were unchanged but Nimble's stock gained 45 per cent in premarket trading.

**

Earnings include: Aecon Group Inc.; Alaris Royalty Corp.; Baytex Energy Corp.; CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd.; Cardiome Pharma Corp.; Centric Health Corp.; DH Corp.; Dick's Sporting Goods Inc.; EcoSynthetix Inc.; Endeavour Mining Corp.; Enercare Inc.; Gibson Energy Inc.; Great Canadian Gaming Corp.; Holloway Lodging Corp.;  Imvescor Restaurant Group Inc.; Parex Resources Inc.; Pulse Seismic Inc.; Stuart Olson Inc.; Tourmaline Oil Corp.; Trilogy Energy Corp.; Urban Outfitters Inc.

**

With files from wire services

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