TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed higher Thursday on the final day of first-quarter trading with the market finding support from a surprise profit from tech giant BlackBerry amid the rollout of its new touchscreen Z10 smartphone.
The S&P/TSX composite index gained 50.25 points to 12,749.9.
BlackBerry shares (TSX:BB) (NASDAQ:BBRY) closed up 29 cents or almost two per cent at $15.09 after the company posted a profit of US$98 million or 19 cents per share compared with a loss of $125 million or 24 cents per share a year ago.
But the quarter, which ended March 2, didn’t include Z10 sales from the United States since major U.S. carriers didn’t start rolling out the smartphone until last week. And BlackBerry’s subscriber base, which had been growing until the third quarter, fell to 76 million from 79 million, a sign that more people ditched their BlackBerry in favour of competitors’ phones.
The TSX was in the red for much of the session as another round of worry about the future of the eurozone weighed on sentiment during the final day of a shortened trading week ahead of the Easter holiday weekend.
"There hasn’t really been much in the way of good news out of anywhere," said Colin Cieszynski, market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.
"Europe is totally dragging, and if anything, it looks like their problems just keep getting worse."
The Canadian dollar shed early gains to close up 0.05 of a cent at 98.43 cents US amid January gross domestic product figures that showed Canada's economy grew at a faster than expected clip after faltering at the end of 2012.
Statistics Canada reported that real gross domestic product in January grew by 0.2 per cent. That was better than the 0.1 per cent gain economists had expected and followed a 0.2 per cent dip in December.
U.S. indexes registered gains going into the weekend amid other data that showed that the U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster but still anemic rate at the end of last year.
The Dow Jones industrials index gained 52.38 points to another record high of 14,578.54.
The Nasdaq composite index was 11 points higher to 3,267.52 while the S&P 500 index closed at an all-time high, jumping 6.34 points to 1,569.19, surpassing a previous record from Oct. 9, 2007.
The Commerce Department says the economy grew at an annual rate of 0.4 per cent in the October-December quarter. That was slightly better than the previous estimate of 0.1 per cent growth. The revision reflected stronger business investment and export sales.
Traders looked to Cyprus where banks reopened after a nearly two-week shutdown as the tiny Mediterranean country negotiated a bailout agreement with international creditors that will see many large depositors lose a big chunk of their money.
"It opens up a Pandora’s box and who can trust their banks now?" added Cieszynski.
The mood was generally calm despite some long queues at certain branches. Cyprus has imposed capital controls to prevent a run on the banks, the first time such measures have been taken since the euro was established in 1999.
The TSX ended the week flat after the Cyprus bailout agreement was clinched in the early hours of Monday morning. Early relief gave way to concern that the Cyprus bailout agreement may be a model for the future.
The industrials group led advancers, up 1.64 per cent with Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) ahead $3.48 to $132.54.
The utilities sector was up 1.4 per cent as Canadian Utilities (TSX:CU) gained $1.59 to $80.51.
The financials sector was ahead 0.49 per cent with CIBC (TSX:CM) ahead 75 cents to $79.68.
May copper shed early gains and closed four cents lower at US$3.40 a pound and the base metals sector gained 0.4 per cent. HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) rose 16 cents to C$9.77.
The energy sector was slightly lower as May crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed 65 cents to US$97.23 a barrel.
Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) shares added four cents to C$30.44 after it announced Wednesday it was not going ahead with its troubled Voyageur oilsands upgrader project, citing market conditions which have changed significantly, challenging the economics of the project. Suncor took a $1.49-billion writedown on Voyageur in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The company said it will take a charge to its first quarter net income and cash flow from operations of approximately $140 million and $180 million respectively as a result of the decision.
The gold sector was down about 0.49 per cent as June bullion fell $11.50 to US$1,595.70 an ounce. Iamgold Corp. (TSX:IMG) faded five cents to C$7.33.
The TSX Venture Exchange edged up 1.21 points to 1,099.