8 Oct

TSX lower after 3 days of gains

The Toronto stock market stepped back Thursday after a string of gains while prices on commodity markets declined.The S&P/TSX composite index lost 43.77 points to 12,491.14 while the Canadian dollar was up 0.34 of a cent to 98.92 cents after earlier running up to a two-month high of 99.15 cents US.U.S. indexes were mixed after three days of gains as jobless insurance data helped take some of the sting from the weak March employment report that was released Friday.The number of Americans seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell 42,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, which beat expectations of 360,000.The Dow Jones industrials were up 27.13 points to 14,829.37, the Nasdaq composite index dipped 1.54 points to 3,295.72 as International Data Corp. reported global PC shipments fell 14 per cent in the first quarter, the biggest decline ever.The S&P 500 index edged up 2.77 points to 1,590.5.On the earnings front, Hudson’s Bay Company (TSX:HBC) posted fourth-quarter earnings that were down compared with a year ago as its Lord & Taylor operations in the United States felt the impact of hurricane Sandy. HBC’s net earnings from continuing operations were $93.6 million or 81 cents per share for the 14 weeks ended Feb 28, down $5.6 million from a year ago.Earnings ex-items were $99.3 million or 86 cents per share during the most recent quarter, up from $94.8 million a year earlier. Overall sales grew $86.89 million to $1.39 billion and its shares declined 35 cents to $14.40.Astral Media Inc. (TSX:ACM.A) had $41.2 million or 73 cents a share in net earnings in the latest quarter, up eight per cent from the year earlier period. Revenue also increased slightly, rising to $237.1 million from $233.5 million.The Montreal-based radio, television and outdoor advertising company is seeking regulatory approval to be acquired by BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE). Its shares added two cents at $47.03.Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX:CJR.B) shares fell $1.15 to $24.56 after it said Thursday that net income attributable to shareholders in the latest quarter fell to $5.9 million or seven cents per diluted share. That was down from $31.6 million on 38 cents from a year earlier. Corus cited a $25-million pre-tax debt refinancing charge as well as “soft” business results that saw a double-digit slide in quarterly revenue to $183.7 million.The TSX tech sector was the leading decliner, down 1.55 per cent with BlackBerry (TSX:BB) down 93 cents to $14.Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha said in a note to clients that his analysis of the company’s recent annual filing showed that gross margins reported for the fourth fiscal quarter were driven in part by lower levels of amortization and not entirely by the new BlackBerry 10 handsets that were launched during the period.There was another report issued Tuesday from U.S. brokerage MKM Partners that said BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8 are still struggling to draw interest among consumers.On the commodity markets, the May crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange declined 36 cents to US$94.28 a barrel. Prices backed off after the International Energy Agency lowered its expectations for global demand for crude in 2013 by 45,000 barrels a day, to 90.6 million barrels a day.The energy sector dropped 0.55 per cent while Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) shed 21 cents to C$29.91.The base metals sector lost 1.4 per cent as May copper dipped one cent to US$3.41 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) declined 43 cents to C$28.64.The gold sector was little changed while June bullion was up $6.10 to US$1,564.90 an ounce.Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) gained 46 cents to $25.27. Barrick shares tumbled almost nine per cent Wednesday after a Chilean court suspended its Pascua-Lama mine after indigenous communities complained that the project is threatening their water supply and polluting glaciers.Gold slid 1.7 per cent on Wednesday, partly on speculation that Cyprus will sell 400 million euros of the precious metal as part of its financial bailout.Both the Dow and the S&P closed at record highs on Wednesday as traders dismissed the minutes to the March policy meeting of the Federal Reserve, which showed there was a debate over when to end the stimulus program. The minutes were viewed as outdated because the meeting was held about two weeks before the release of a disappointing jobs report on Friday, which further persuaded investors that the Fed won’t be ending its program of buying bonds anytime soon.The TSX also posted its third straight gain Wednesday, helped along by Chinese data showing a sharp uptick in imports, raising hopes for stronger performance from the world’s second-biggest economy. The showing put the TSX back into positive territory year to date after gains were wiped out in a 3.25 per cent tumble last week.European bourses were positive as London’s FTSE 100 index gained 0.25 per cent while Frankfurt’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 rose 0.5 per cent.In other corporate news, SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) has signed a contract to build Montreal’s new Shriners children’s hospital, adjacent to a new super-hospital SNC is building that has resulted in fraud charges being filed against two former senior executives. The project will more than double the size of the existing Shriners hospital. The value of the contract was not disclosed and its shares gave back 47 cents to $44.25.

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