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The last few weeks have been unkind to equities, as fears of another European debt crisis looms over markets. December, however, has turned things around, posting two consecutive days in the green for the three major U.S. indexes. The positive results were spurred by a slew of positive economic data showing signs of economic growth in sectors such as retail and housing that have been dormant since the market collapsed in late 2008. As the first two days of the month have gotten off to a positive start, investors are hopeful that this month will turn out like September or October, when the Dow saw strong gains, finally eclipsing the 11,000 mark. But keeping markets in the green will rely heavily on economic data from around the world, and today will see a number of key reports released by our neighbor to the north, Canada [see also How Investors CAN Play The BRIC Through A Different Set Of Country ETFs].
Well before market open, the Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RY ) is set to release their earnings from their most recent quarter. This report comes at a crucial time, as banks around the world are under heavy scrutiny due to exposure to a number of indebted nations, such as Portugal and Ireland, which are having trouble staying afloat and could need bailouts in order to continue making their debt payments. Thanks to these issues as well as credit problems closer to home, the Royal Bank has missed their last two earnings estimates, but hopes to turn that trend around in this quarter's report. Analysts predict the firm will bring in an EPS of $0.96, the very same estimate issued last quarter. Along with the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Nova Scotia (NYSE: BNS ) will release earnings today, and is expected to haul in EPS of $0.98. The Bank of Nova Scotia has hit their last three earnings estimates and hopes to make it four in a row with today's crucial report [see also Free ETF Trading: Comparing All The Options].
Along with two of the nation's most important banks shedding insight onto their recent performance, Canada will release figures for both the net change in employment, and the change in the overall unemployment rate for the month of November. Unemployment is defined as the total labor force without out jobs, but are willing to work and are actively seeking employment. These two figures will likely help investors to read the nation's consumer spending and overall economic growth patterns heading into 2011 in order to estimate how Canada is faring in this sluggish economic recovery. But on the other hand, if unemployment comes in high, it could point to economic stagnation and low consumer spending for the Canadian economy, leaving funds tracking the trillion dollar economy no where to go but down [see also Seven ETFs To Invest Like Peter Schiff].
With this range of major data coming in today, the iShares MSCI Canada Index Fund (NYSE: EWC ) should be active in trading. This fund tracks the performance of the Canadian equity market, featuring names like Royal Bank of Canada (6.5%), Toronto-Dominion Bank (5.5%), and Bank of Nova Scotia (4.8%) in its top holdings. The fund focuses its assets on financials (32.5%), and energy (24.7%) sectors of the market, which could mean that today's data is especially important for the fund's performance. With the various economic reports coming in today and the key earnings announcements, this fund could move in any number of ways depending on how the data pans out from both the banks and the Canadian government.
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