TSX flat amid disappointing retail earnings eurozone data Chinese reform

The Toronto stock market was little changed Wednesday amid earnings misses from two of the country’s biggest grocers and fresh data that raised worries that the eurozone’s economic growth may have stalled in the third quarter.There was also lingering disappointment that a meeting of Chinese leaders failed to yield reforms to a growth model that is seen as running out of momentum.The S&P/TSX composite index inched up 2.32 points to 13,328.36.Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L) fell $2.77 or 5.79 per cent to $45.07 as the grocer lowered its 2013 forecast for profit growth due to thinner margins in the second half of the year.Loblaw also said its quarterly net income was $154 million or 55 cents per share, which was down 28.6 per cent a year earlier. Ex-items, earnings were $220 million or 78 cents per share, down 3.7 per cent a year ago. However, revenue was up 1.9 per cent to $10 billion.Metro (TSX:MRU) shares lost $3.16 or 4.8 per cent to $62.55 after the company posted adjusted fully diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations of $1.19, up 4.4 per cent from a year ago. However, sales were down 1.1 per cent to $2.6 billion while same store sales fell 1.8 per cent.The Canadian dollar was up 0.07 of a cent to 95.37 cents US, a day after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the Conservative government will end seven years of deficits in 2015 with a $3.7-billion surplus. The new projection is nearly $3 billion better than the March budget forecast.U.S. indexes were also lower with the Dow Jones industrials down 76.55 points to 15,674.12, the Nasdaq declined 5.06 points to 3,914.86 and the S&P 500 index lost 3.79 points to 1,763.9.Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, reported that industrial output across the 17-country eurozone fell a monthly rate of 0.5 per cent in September. The fall was slightly larger than expected and means the sector weighed on third-quarter growth.The industrial figures come a day ahead of the first estimate for third-quarter growth. Until the release, most economists thought the eurozone would register a second straight quarter of growth following its longest-ever recession.Traders also looked to confirmation hearings for Janet Yellen as the new Federal Reserve chief on Thursday could provide a fresh cue for financial markets.Investors will look to her testimony for clues about when the Fed will begin reducing its massive monetary stimulus that has supported a strong rally on many stock markets and kept the lid on long-term rates.Yellen, known for her dovish stance on stimulus, has been tapped to replace Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman at the end of January.Meanwhile, Communist Party leaders in Beijing wrapped up a four-day meeting on the economy late Tuesday. Reform advocates had hoped for major changes such as curbing the dominance of state industry.But they were disappointed as the ruling party said only that market forces will play a “decisive role” in China’s economy, an upgrade from “core role” assigned to the market.The metals and mining sector was a major drag, down 1.6 per cent as copper prices fell for a second day in the wake of the Chinese leadership meeting, down eight cents to US$3.15 a pound. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) was down 83 cents to C$18.56.Telecoms were also weak as Telus (TSX:T) gave back 36 cents to $36.90.Energy companies led advancers, up 0.37 per cent while December crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 60 cents to US$93.64 a barrel. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) was up 39 cents to $36.89.The gold sector also provided some lift, up 0.2 per cent as bullion prices advanced with the December contract up $1 to US$1,272.20 an ounce.European bourses were lower with London’s FTSE 100 index down 1.37 per cent after Bank of England governor Mark Carney said unemployment in Britain is falling faster than anticipated, raising speculation that interest rates may start rising sooner than expected. Frankfurt’s DAX 30 and the Paris CAC 40 fell 0.6 per cent.In Asia, disappointment with the outcome of the Chinese leadership meeting pushed the Shanghai Composite plunged 1.8 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sank 1.9 per cent. Tokyo’s Nikkei shed 0.2 per cent, South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.6 per cent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.4 per cent.

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