The Toronto Stock Exchange moved slightly lower shortly after open Wednesday even as commodity prices rebounded and traders awaited data on the U.S. housing market that is expected to be positive.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index dipped 21.44 points to approach noon at 12,409.26.
The Canadian dollar faltered 0.11 cents at 100.74 cents U.S.
On the TSX, shares in gold miner Barrick Gold Corp. added 13 cents to $43.60, while shares in base metals miner Teck Resources were down seven cents to $35.67.
The mining sector on the TSX moved lower, with shares in Canadian Natural Resources down 16 cents to $34.68.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude producer, said Tuesday that it can quickly boost output by 25% if there is a sudden disruption in global supplies. Crude has jumped from $75 U.S. in October as traders worry that a military conflict over Iran's nuclear program could interrupt oil supplies.
Both the TSX and Wall Street closed lower Tuesday as commodity prices slumped amid signs that China's booming economy could be slowing.
On the corporate front, Montreal-based Miranda Technologies Inc. is talking with a number of unnamed strategic partners about ways to enhance the company's value, while making a change on its board. Shares jumped 7% or 77 cents to $11.41.
On the economic beat, Statistics Canada reported that its composite leading index – a basket of vital economic indicators – ran its winning streak to eight straight months in February, jumping 0.6%, following a 0.4% gain in January. Last month, according to the agency, six of the 10 components rose.
The TSX Venture Exchange gained 5.89 points to 1,576.59, while the Nasdaq Canada index fell 2.74 to 415.48
Eight of the 14 Toronto subgroups remained negative by midday. Metals and mining stocks tumbled 1.5%, while global base metals lost 0.8%, and financials faded 0.4%.
The six gainers were led by consumer discretionaries, which improved 0.9%, industrials, up 0.7%, and real-estate forged ahead 0.5%.
In New York, stocks faltered Wednesday as investors considered the latest report on existing home sales along with mixed corporate news.
The Dow Jones Industrials remained negative by 30.09 points at noon to 13,140.10.
The S&P 500 gave back 1.72 points to 1,403.80, while the Nasdaq added 5.33 points to 3,079.48.
Shares of Hartford Financial Services Group rose nearly 6% in early trading after the company said it was exiting the annuity business and spinning off its life insurance business -- a move advocated by hedge-fund manager John Paulson, who owns a sizable stake in the company.
Shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters jumped after the single-serve coffee machine maker announced plans to expand its partnership with Starbucks to allow Starbucks-branded "Vue" packs to be used in Green Mountain's Keurig brewer.
The move comes weeks after Starbucks launched its own "Versimo" single-serve coffee machine, partnering with Germany-based Krueger GmbH & Co. KG.
General Mills reported sales of $4.1 billion U.S., and earnings per share of 55 cents U.S. on Wednesday morning. The food producer cited its international acquisition of Yoplait as a source of growth, but noted that its margins were squeezed by higher input prices.
After Tuesday's close, Oracle reported better-than-expected earnings, giving the tech company's shares a lift in early trading.
In matters economic, existing home sales for February came in at an annual rate of 4.59 million in February, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The sales pace was down 0.9% from an upwardly revised 4.63 million in January and was roughly in line with economists' expectations.
A government report Tuesday showed a big increase in requests for building permits in February, but new home construction was weaker than expected.
Gas prices rose by 1.8 cents to a national average of $3.86 U.S., according to motorist group AAA. Wednesday marks the 12th consecutive day prices have risen. Gas prices are up 17.8% this year.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury gained back lost ground, pushing the yield lower to 2.31% from 2.37% Tuesday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for February delivery moved up $1.28 to $107.35 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $14.30 to $1,661.30 U.S. an ounce.