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Before the Bell: Banks likely to draw attention

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.

The main trading action overnight has been in energy markets where WTI and Brent crude oil plus heating oil have all rallied ‎1.4 per cent. Natural gas is up 2.9 per cent despite warm conditions in consuming regions, while gasoline is up 1.0 per cent.

Renewed interest in energy was sparked late yesterday afternoon when API reported a 0.9 million barrel drawdown signalling the record breaking multi-million barrel buildup of stockpiles in recent weeks may finally be ending. Oil may remain active through the DOE weekly inventory reports due at 10:30 am ET with a 3.5 mmbbl increase for crude oil currently expected by the Street.

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Stock markets have been steady overnight.

U.S. index futures are up marginally, while the Dax, FTSE and Nikkei are down marginally. There was no major economic or political news overnight. It's still not clear if the Fed is planning to raise rates in March or not. It does look‎ like the announcements on tax and health care reform may not come until March, leaving me wondering if traders patience can last that long.

Currencies have been mixed overnight. The euro is under pressure relative to U.S. dollar and pound again as French polls show Euroskeptic Marine Le Pen adding to her first round lead. Other majors are trading slightly higher or slightly lower relative to the greenback.

Canadian banks could attract attention today after CIBC kicked off their earnings season with a bang. CIBC‎ reported adjusted EPS of $2.89 well above the $2.60 street estimate. It also raised its dividend slightly. Loblaw's report was mixed with a small miss on earnings potentially offset by a small beat on sales.

Now, here is a closer look at what's going on this morning and what is still to come.

MARKET DATA:

Futures (as of about 7:30 a.m. ET)

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Dow +0.05 per cent; S&P 500 +0.02 per cent; Nasdaq: +0.04 per cent; TSX 60 +0.19 per cent

Equities
Japan's Nikkei -0.04 per cent
Shanghai composite index -0.30 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.36 per cent 
Germany's DAX -0.07 per cent
London's FTSE -0.08 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.20 per cent

Commodities
WTI crude oil (Nymex Apri) +1.31 per cent at $54.29 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex April) +0.49 per cent at $1,239.40  (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex March) -0.75 per cent at $2.71 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies
Canadian dollar +0.22 at 76.16 cents (U.S.)
U.S. dollar index unchanged at 100.95

Bonds
Canada 10-year bond yield +0.26 at 1.68 per cent

KEY ECONOMIC RELEASES

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Japan leading index
Germany real GDP and GfK consumer confidence

(8:30 a.m. ET) Canada Survey of Employment, Payrolls, and Hours for December.
(8:30 a.m. ET) U.S. initial jobless claims for week of Feb. 18. Estimate is 240,000, an increase of 1,000 from previous week.
(9 a.m. ET) U.S. FHFA House Price Index for December. Estimate is an increase of 0.5 per cent from November and 6.1 per cent year over year.
(11 a.m. ET) EIA petroleum status report

Earnings include: Alamos Gold Inc.; AltaGas Ltd.; Altus Group Ltd.; Apache Corp.; Baidu Inc.; Barclays PLC; BlackPearl Resources Inc.; Bonavista Energy Corp.; Calfrac Well Services Ltd.; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce; Cott Corp.; Crescent Point Energy Corp.; Eldorado Gold Corp.; Enerflex Ltd.; Gap Inc.; Gildan Activewear Inc.; Glencore PLC; Guyana Goldfields Inc.; Halogen Software Inc.; Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.; IMAX Corp.; Innergex Renewable Energy Inc.; Intuit Inc.; Kohls Corp.; Leon's Furniture Ltd.; Loblaw Companies Ltd.; MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.; Nevsun Resources Ltd.; Nordstrom Inc.; Northland Power Inc.; OceanaGold Corp.; Olympia Financial Group Inc.; Pembina Pipeline Corp.; Silver Standard Resources Inc.; Stantec Inc.; Tree Island Steel Ltd.; Tricon Capital Group Inc.; Vale SA.

KEY STOCKS TO WATCH

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

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Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM-T), Canada's fifth-biggest lender, on Thursday reported a 13-per-cent rise in first-quarter earnings benefiting from growth in its retail, wealth management and capital markets businesses. Net income, excluding one-off items, for the quarter ended Jan. 31 rose to $1.17-billion, or $2.89 per share. Analysts on average had forecast earnings of $2.59 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

**

Grocery and pharmacy retailer Loblaw Cos Ltd. (L-T) reported a 57-per-cent rise in quarterly profit, helped partly by a drop in expenses in its retail segment and improved performances in its financial services and property businesses.

**

Crescent Point Energy Corp.  (CPG-T) reported a bigger quarterly loss from a year earlier, mainly hurt by one-time charges of about $457-million.

**

Brazilian miner Vale SA reported on Thursday net profit of $525-million for the fourth quarter, falling short of analyst expectations but reversing a heavy loss in the period a year earlier thanks to record output and higher iron ore prices. A Reuters poll of analysts had forecast net profit of $1.8-billion in the quarter, but the world's largest producer of iron ore fell short on account of impairments totaling $2.9-billion, principally on fertilizer and nickel assets.

**

Shares of Tesla Inc. (TSLA-Q) rose 2 per cent to $279.20 in premarket trading after the electric car maker posted a smaller quarterly net loss and said its mass-market Model 3 sedan was on track for volume production by September.

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Department store operator Kohl's Corp. (KSS-N) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by higher margins despite a 2.8 -er-cent drop in sales. The company, like rival Macy's Inc, reported weak sales in November and December as it struggles to overcome stiff competition from Amazon.com Inc and weak demand for clothes and accessories.

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U.S. natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK-N)  posted a smaller fourth-quarter loss than a year earlier, when it took huge charges to write down the value of some oil and gas assets. The company's net loss available to shareholders narrowed to $741-million, or 84 cents per share, in the three months to Dec. 31, from $2.23-billion, or $3.36 per share, a year earlier

**

Commodities trader and miner Glencore reported an 18-per-cent rise in 2016 profit on Thursday, buoyed by a rebound in raw material prices, and said it was well-placed financially for small acquisitions or a special dividend payout. Analysts said the results beat expectations, driving the share price 2.7 per cent higher, building on gains of nearly 20 percent so far this year. The wider sector was flat.

With files from wire services

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