BUSINESS

TSX advances amid ECB vow to protect euro currency, slowing U.S. economy

07/27/2012 08:16 EDT | Updated 09/26/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Stock markets surged Friday on further indications that a long-awaited fix to the eurozone debt crisis could be at hand.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 126.61 points to 11,766.36 and the TSX Venture Exchange climbed 9.22 points to 1,190.64 after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande released a joint statement saying they will do anything they can to stop the 17 countries that use the euro from breaking up. They didn’t offer details.

Markets have rallied strongly since the European Central Bank president pledged Thursday to do whatever it takes to save the euro currency union.

Mario Draghi suggested that the central bank could intervene in markets to lower the borrowing rates of financially weak countries like Spain.

"At the end of the day, the only institution that is critical to resolving the issue is the European Central Bank," said Patrick Blais, managing director and portfolio manager at MFC Global Investment Management.

"They’re the only institution with the capacity and the ability to at the end of the day to monetize part of the debt."

The Canadian dollar rose 0.51 of a cent to 99.56 cents US amid rising prices for oil and metals.

New York markets were also sharply higher despite data showing economic growth slowed during the second quarter to its lowest pace in a year. Gross domestic product rose 1.5 per cent, which was roughly in line with expectations. That's down from a revised two per cent gain in the first quarter. But the data raised expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will indicate next week that another round of economic stimulus is in the works.

The Dow Jones industrials surged 187.73 points to 13,075.66.

The Nasdaq composite index was ahead 64.84 points to 2,958.09 and the S&P 500 index climbed 25.95 points to 1,385.97.

Stocks have been depressed in recent weeks as the focus of the European government debt crisis moved to Spain. Traders skeptical over the government's ability to manage high debt levels have driven up bond yields past the seven per cent level, which is considered unsustainable in the long run.

Draghi suggested that the ECB considers it part of its job to keep government borrowing rates at normal levels. It could do so by buying government bonds, which has the effect of lowering their yield, or interest rate.

Hopes for central bank assistance in Europe and the U.S. helped push the TSX up 1.23 per cent this week.

Commodity prices advanced with September copper ahead three cents to US$3.43 a pound. The base metals sector led gains, up 2.5 per cent. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) improved by 53 cents to $18.60.

The September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange ahead 74 cents to US$90.13 a barrel, helping take the energy sector up 1.84 per cent. Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) moved ahead 87 cents to $43.64.

The financial sector rose 1.53 per cent with Sun Life Financial (TSX:SLF) ahead 53 cents to $21.40.

Shares in insurance and investment giant Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (TSX:FFH) shed $2.01 to $377.99 after it said quarterly profit rose 14 per cent, largely due to improved underwriting results and a jump in revenues from premiums written by its insurance and reinsurance businesses.

Techs also lent support with shares in electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc. (TSX:CKS) ahead 53 cents or 7.17 per cent to $7.92 after it said quarterly net income fell 48 per cent as it prepares for the end of its relationship with Research In Motion Ltd., for which it had assembled BlackBerry phones. Revenue for the three months dropped five per cent to $1.74 billion, above expectations for $1.69 billion.

The gold sector turned positive while August gold gained $2.90 to US$1,618 an ounce. Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) continued to lose ground after issuing a disappointing earnings report Thursday, down 55 cents to $32.49.

Eldorado Gold (TSX:ELD) gained 58 cents to $11.10 after it reported quarterly net income of $46.6 million or seven cents share. That is down 38 per cent from a year ago. Revenues from gold sales for the quarter came in at $214.2 million, down 13 per cent from a year earlier. Eldorado also revised its 2012 production guidance downward.

Elsewhere on the earnings front, Facebook shares plunged 11.7 per cent to US$23.70 after the social networking site reported stronger-than-expected revenue and a gain in user numbers Thursday. But investors weren't impressed with the fact that growth has slowed. Also, Facebook didn’t offer an outlook for the rest of the year.

Starbucks dropped 9.4 per cent to US$47.47 after the coffee retailer reported Thursday that net income in its fiscal third quarter rose 19 per cent from a year ago. But analysts expected more, and were further disappointed when the company cut its outlook for the current quarter because of a recent slowdown in U.S. customer traffic and persisting challenges in hard-hit European regions.

In Canada, TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) posted second-quarter net income attributable to common shares of $272 million or 39 cents per share, down from $353 million or 50 cents per common shares in the same period last year. Revenue came in at $1.8 billion compared to $1.79 billion year over year.

TransCanada also said it has won final approval on three permits needed to build an oil pipeline to refineries on the Texas coast. Its shares edged five cents higher to $44.85.