Commodity prices propel Toronto market higher
(Baystreet Stock Market Update (Canada) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jobless claims in today
The Toronto stock market was slightly higher Thursday, powered by higher energy and gold stocks after worries about the future of the euro-zone pushed commodity prices to multi-month lows earlier this week.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index picked up 18.66 points to make it to noon ET at 11,344.74
The Canadian dollar dipped 0.44 to 98.36 cents U.S. The loonie has slid almost three U.S. cents since the start of the month as traders have avoided risky assets like commodities and resource-based currencies like the loonie amid rising worries about the future of the euro-zone and the common euro currency.
A string of losses has left the TSX at its worst level since early October of last year, down more than 10% from its most recent highs registered at the end of February.
There was also some high drama ahead of Canadian Pacific Railway's annual meeting Thursday, with chief executive Fred Green stepping down after his defenders lost a proxy battle.
U.S. fund manager Bill Ackman has pushed for Green's removal since last year. Canadian Pacific chairman John Cleghorn is also leaving the company, along with Green and four other directors clearing the way for Ackman's slate of nominees to take their seats at the board of directors. CP shares were up $1.46 to $77.32.
The energy sector gained ground Canadian Natural Resources climbed 60 cents to $29.93.
Imperial Oil says it may sell its refinery in Dartmouth, N.S., or convert it into a terminal. It noted that demand for refined products in the basin has declined in recent years and the refiner has not met financial expectations. Imperial shares shed 28 cents to $41.72.
The gold sector was also higher, as. Barrick Gold Corp. climbed $1.45 to $37.16.
But the base metals component lost some of its energy as copper dipped a penny to $3.47 U.S. after ending Wednesday's session at its lowest level since mid-January. First Quantum Minerals declined 34 cents to $17.40 while Teck Resources was up 42 cents to $30.36.
The financial sector lost ground amid worries about the health of euro-zone banks as investors worry that destabilization could also hit other heavily indebted countries such as Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Italy.
Royal Bank was off 40 cents to $52.63.
In other corporate news, Sears Canada shares fell $1.65 or 12.55% to $11.50 after it said its U.S. parent will dramatically reduce its holdings in the troubled department store chain and may sell all of its stake. About 95% of the common shares of Sears Canada are currently owned by Sears Holdings Corp., which also owns the Sears and Kmart department store chains in the United States.
On the economic slate, Statistics Canada reported that wholesale sales boosted 0.4% in March to $48.7 billion. The agency also reported that foreign holdings in Canadian investments went down $2.1 billion in March, led by debt instruments.
On the other side, Canadian investors acquired the largest amount of foreign securities in nearly five years at $7.8 billion, most of those funds in equities.
The TSX Venture Exchange gained 6.73 points to 1,224.47, while the Nasdaq Canada progressed 3.84 points, to 365.21.
The 14 Toronto subgroups were evenly split between gainers and losers. Gold screamed higher by 6.6%, while materials triumphed 4.2%, information technology took on 1.9%.
The seven laggards were weighed mostly by financials, off 1.4%, consumer discretionary issues, falling 0.7%, and real-estate, shedding 0.5%.
U.S. stocks were lower for a fifth day Thursday, as investors continued to fret about Greece's future in the euro-zone.
The Dow Jones Industrials approached noon down 88.21 points to 12,510.34
The S&P 500 demurred 12.39 points to 1,312.41. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index let go of 38.79 to 2,835.25.
Retail giants Wal-Mart and Sears Holdings were the biggest gainers. Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings and sales. Rival Sears also reported a profit, even as sales declined, thanks to a boost from selling real estate assets. The retailer also announced it was looking at a partial spinoff of its Canadian operations.
Other retailers due to report results Thursday include Gap and Aeropostale, both due after the closing bell.
Also reporting after the close is Applied Materials, the manufacturer of chip making equipment, whose earnings are forecast to decline.
But the big tech news after the market close will come from Facebook, which is expected to price its initial public offering. Trading will begin Friday.
The social networking site upped the target price range for its stock earlier this week to between $34 and $38 U.S. per share. It announced Wednesday that 25% more shares of the company will be sold than previously announced.
The additional shares, disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could fetch an extra $3 billion U.S. -- bringing the total raised through Facebook's offering to as much as $16 billion U.S. , making it the most valuable tech IPO in history.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase fell Thursday, a day after the director of the FBI confirmed his agency had launched an initial investigation into a $2-billion U.S. trading loss suffered by the bank.
Meanwhile, concerns about Greece's future in the euro-zone continued to weigh on investors.
Stocks declined for a fourth straight session on Wednesday, as positive economic data in the U.S. failed to counter increasing pessimism over Greece's fiscal woes.
European leaders voiced support Wednesday for keeping Greece in the euro-zone, but cautioned the debt-ridden country must stick with unpopular austerity measures if Greece is going to continue to receive help. A new vote is set for June 17.
Economically speaking, initial jobless claims were unchanged in the week ended May 12 from the revised figure of 370,000. The number came in weaker than expected.
A Philadelphia Fed report showed that regional manufacturing unexpectedly plunged in May for the first time in eight months. The Philly Fed index fell to -5.8 from 8.5 in April. Economists were expecting the index to increase to 8.8. Any reading below zero indicates weakness.
Elsewhere, the index of leading indicators, which gauges the economy's performance over the next three to six months, was also discouraging. The index fell 0.1% in April, disappointing economists who expected it to rise 0.2%.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury gained, pushing the yield down to 1.72% from Wednesday's 1.76%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
The price of a barrel of oil fell moved back a penny to $92.80 U.S.
Gold futures for June delivery rose $17.50 to $1,555.10 U.S. an ounce.
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