BUSINESS

Toronto market higher as confidence eclipses concern, despite weaker commodities

06/18/2012 08:56 EDT | Updated 08/18/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The Toronto stock market overcame pessimism out of Europe and weaker commodity prices on Monday to end the session higher as markets around the globe weighed the outcome of the Greek elections against concerns about Spain's debt troubles.

The S&P/TSX composite index moved up 76.23 points to 11,601.13, while the TSX Venture Exchange gained 8.73 points to 1,259.75.

The Canadian dollar dropped 0.18 of a cent to 97.65 cents US.

Much of the attention was focused on the outcome of the Greek election won by a party backing harsh austerity measures. That was considered a positive development, though concern then shifted towards Spain's debt problems.

Commodity prices fluctuated as both developments influenced markets.

The July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was down 76 cents at US$83.27 a barrel.

Gold bullion dropped $1.10 to US$1,627 an ounce while July copper edged up one cent to US$3.39 a pound.

On the TSX, materials stocks rose 2.1 per cent with Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) rising 90 cents to C$41.18.

Financials were on the downside, off 0.4 per cent, with TD Bank (TSX:TD) dropping 41 cents to $78.57.

The outlook for the global economy appeared to be weighing slightly heavier on U.S. markets.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was off 25.35 points at 12,741.82. The Nasdaq composite index rose 22.53 points to 2,895.33 and the S&P 500 index inched up 1.94 points to 1,344.78.

The Greek election results suggested the country would not drop out of the euro currency union, a scenario that would have put severe stress on the financial system.

But much of the relief faded when it became clear that Spain's fundamental economic and fiscal problems remain huge. Spanish borrowing rates spiked Monday above levels that forced other countries to take bailouts, a sign that bond investors fear Spain will default on its debts.

European stocks ended slightly higher in the afternoon. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.22 per cent while Germany's DAX added 0.3 per cent and France's CAC-40 fell 0.69 per cent.

"The mind set seems to be forming that the Band-Aid approach is too little too late, and there's not much of a concerted set of initiatives to really tackle the problem appropriately," said Garey Aitken, director of equity research, Bissett Investment Management.

"Until people see there's really significant change coming, I think we're just in this washing machine of a market."

In Canada, Yamana Gold Inc. (TSX:YRI) announced the acquisition Monday of Extorre Gold Mines Ltd. (TSX:XG), a miner with a promising gold-silver project in Argentina for about $400 million. Yamana will pay $3.50 in cash and 0.467 of a Yamana share for each Extorre share, while also saying it plans to increase its dividend by 18 per cent. Yamana shares rose 39 cents to $16.75.

Celestica Inc. (TSX:CLS) said it will wind down manufacturing services for Research in Motion (TSX:RIM) over the next three to six months. Celestica says it has been working with RIM as the troubled BlackBerry maker assesses its supply chain strategy. Celestica shares rose 28 cents to $7.89, while RIM stock fell 30 cents to $10.87.

Chartwell Seniors Housing Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:CSH.UN) is selling six properties in the United States for about US$165.5 million, including outstanding mortgages. Its units rose 40 cents to $9.20.

A report in the Globe and Mail says Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (TSX:MBT) is trying to find a buyer for its Allstream division and has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to find foreign suitors, particularly in the United States, after failing to find a Canadian buyer. Company shares were up 2.1 per cent, or 67 cents, to $33.41.

Later Monday, Microsoft unveiled Surface, a tablet computer to compete with Apple's iPad. CEO Steve Ballmer called it part of a "whole new family of devices" the company is developing.

Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division, called the device a "tablet that's a great PC — a PC that's a great tablet."