Stocks lose early momentum amid housing sector disappointment Caterpillar earnings

The Toronto stock market was little changed Monday morning, surrendering most early gains as profit-taking hit Research In Motion’s (TSX:RIM) share price while mining and energy stocks failed to benefit from higher commodity prices.The S&P/TSX composite index added 7.16 points to 12,823.79, while the TSX Venture Exchange was off 5.31 points at 1,221.93.The Canadian dollar sold off for a fourth session, down 0.3 of a cent to a six-month low of 99.05 cents US.The dollar has tumbled about 1 1/2 cents US since the Bank of Canada indicated Wednesday that it will be slower to raise interest rates than had been expected because of economic weakness.The dollar has been supported in recent months partly on sentiment that the central bank might hike rates later this year. Data released Friday showing low inflation in Canada at the end of 2012 further suggested that investors will have to wait longer for the central bank to move. Higher rates tend to attract investors and push up the currency.U.S. indexes lost early momentum as a disappointing housing sector report competed with a well received earnings report from heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. and data showing higher than expected durable goods orders in December.The Dow Jones industrials declined 14.23 points to 13,881.75 as the National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales dropped 4.3 per cent to 101.7 in December. That’s still 6.9 per cent higher than it was a year ago. Sales were held back by a limited supply of available homes.The Nasdaq gained 4.37 points to 3,154.08 and the S&P 500 index was down 3.05 points to 1,499.91.Durable goods orders rose by a greater than expected 4.6 per cent in December. That was more than double the consensus forecast for a two per cent gain. The transportation sector was largely responsible for the increase, with orders in that segment up 12 per cent.Caterpillar’s fourth-quarter profit fell 55 per cent to US$697 million, or $1.04 a share. The latest quarter included a previously disclosed goodwill impairment charge of 87 cents a share.Revenue dropped seven per cent to US$16.08 billion, beating estimates of $16 billion. Ex-items earnings were $1.91 per share versus expectations of $1.69 and its shares were up 1.35 per cent to US$96.87 in New York.A stronger than expected string of U.S. fourth-quarter earnings reports has helped push markets higher in January, with the TSX gaining 0.7 per cent last week while the Dow industrials ran ahead 1.8 per cent.“The markets are probably a little ahead of themselves, capturing the relief that we didn’t have great protracted political battles in the U.S.,” said Chris King, portfolio manager at Morgan, Meighen and Associates, referring to the so-called fiscal cliff and raising the debt ceiling.“All the while, we know that the U.S. economy is improving, China is turning around. And what is most encouraging, we’re seeing fund flows back into equities like we haven’t seen going back more than a decade.”The Canadian corporate earning season kicks into gear this week with some of Canada’s biggest companies reporting.Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) and grocer Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU.A) report earnings results on Tuesday while Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX:POT) and Canadian Oil Sands (TSX:COS) hand in numbers on Thursday.Elsewhere on the corporate front, Research In Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM) unveils its new BlackBerry 10 product line in New York on Wednesday. Its stock has been on a tear lately amid optimism about the new lineup, rising 50 per cent in January and 12 per cent last week alone. However, its stock fell 77 cents, or 4.37 per cent, to $16.84 Monday morning on profit-taking.The gold sector was down 0.85 per cent as February bullion stepped back 50 cents to US$1,656.10 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) shed 24 cents to $32.78 while Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K) faded 28 cents to C$8.30.The mining sector also helped depress the TSX, down 0.5 per cent as March copper on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose one cent to US$3.66 a pound. Thompson Creek Metals (TSX:TCM) shed six cents to C$4.13 and Capstone Mining (TSX:CS) declined six cents to $2.43.The energy sector was off 0.16 per cent even as oil prices advanced, with the March crude contract ahead five cents to US$95.93 a barrel. Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) lost 13 cents to C$44.95.The telecom sector gained 0.6 per cent with BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) ahead 34 cents to $44.70.Financials also supported the TSX as Royal Bank (TSX:RY) rose 46 cents to $62.56 while Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) gained 40 cents to $64.55.Economic news will also hopefully provide some direction for traders.In the U.S., the Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day meeting on interest rates Wednesday. No one expects the central bank to move on rates but traders will look for clues as to when the Fed might end its latest round of economic stimulus.Minutes from the previous Fed meeting, released Jan. 3, showed a split among members over how long to continue the stimulus, known as quantitative easing. It involves the Fed buying bonds to support the U.S. economy, a move aimed at keeping interest rates low.Some thought the program should be slowed or stopped before the end of 2013 amid concerns that the bond purchases would destabilize the economy.The key piece of data for the week comes out Friday. Economists generally expect the U.S. non-farm payrolls report to show that the economy created 153,000 jobs in January, slightly below December’s 155,000 reading.Traders will also take in the latest readings on economic growth in Canada and the U.S. during the week.European bourses were higher as London’s FTSE 100 index added 0.22 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX lost 0.24 per cent and the Paris CAC was up 0.07 per cent. read more

Cenovus Energy Inc hikes dividend by 10 as operating earnings rise in

CALGARY — Calgary-based oil sands producer Cenovus Energy Inc. said Thursday its raising its dividend by 10%.The increased payout to Cenovus shareholders was announced along with the company’s fourth-quarter results, which included $212 million of operating earnings, equal to 28 cents per share.That compared with a year-earlier operating loss of $188 million or 25 cents per share. The operating earnings exclude a number of items, including the impact of the company’s risk-management programs. With those items included, Cenovus had a fourth-quarter net loss of $58 million.More to come . . . read more

Closing Bell TSX closes higher amid strong manufacturing employment data

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market racked up a solid gain Wednesday amid rising hopes for a strong reading on U.S. job creation as traders also caught up with two positive manufacturing reports that were released while the TSX was closed for Canada Day.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 15,209.79+63.78 0.42%S&P 500 —  1,974.62+1.30 0.07%Dow — 16,976.24+20.17 0.12%Nasdaq — 4,457.73 -0.92 -0.02%Canadian stocks rose a fifth day as the benchmark index rose to an intraday record.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 63.78 points to 15,209.79 after data showed that Chinese manufacturing grew in June for the first time in six months. The gauge closed at record on June 30 and Wednesday surpassed its intraday high of 15,154.77 set on June 6, 2008.In the U.S., the manufacturing sector showed a 13th straight month of growth.The Canadian dollar was up 0.03 of a cent to 93.75 cents US.U.S. indexes put in lacklustre performances but the Dow Jones industrials and the S&P 500 again closed at fresh record highs. The Dow was up 20.17 points to 16,976.24 and the S&P 500 gained 1.3 points to 1,974.62. The Nasdaq was 0.92 of a point lower at 4,457.73.Traders were cautious ahead of the other major economic event for the week — the release Thursday of the U.S. government’s employment report for June.Ahead of that data, U.S. payrolls firm ADP reported that the private sector created 281,000 jobs in June, much higher than the 205,000 reading that had been forecast. That raised hopes the government figures would show the American economy cranked out more than the 210,000 jobs in the public and private sector that economists have forecast.“Clearly, now the market is going to set up for a bullish number,” said Wes Mills, chief investment officer at Scotia Private Client Group.“It does seem risk-on is coming back. People have been reluctant to fully endorse this rally and we know the fears that have popped up, whether it’s Ukraine or China or more recently this Iraq business. But it does seem the market is shaking all of these things off.”In corporate news, JPMorgan Chase chairman and chief executive Jamie Dimon said he has curable throat cancer. Dimon said he plans to remain on the job and be actively involved in key decisions while undergoing treatment. Despite the reassurance, Dimon’s illness could raise leadership concerns at one of the world’s biggest banks. The bank’s shares declined 60 cents to US$56.97.In Canada, shares in Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (TSX:CP) (NYSE:CP) were 10 cents higher to C$193.41 after the carrier was upgraded by equities research analysts at CIBC from a “sector perform” rating to an “outperform” rating. Earlier this week, analysts at Barclays raised their price target on shares of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. from US$168 to US$196. The shares rose $1.19 to US$181.39 in New York.TSX advancers were led by the base metals component, up 3.85% as July copper gained six cents to US$3.27 a pound. The information technology sector was up 1.21% as BlackBerry (TSX:BB) ran up 45 cents or 4.11% to $11.39. The stock has surged lately, up about 40% in the past month amid strong quarterly financial results and enthusiasm over its new product. BlackBerry’s Passport, which meets somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet in size, is scheduled to launch in Europe this September.The gold sector shook off early declines to move up 0.2% while August bullion rose $4 to US$1,330.60 an ounce.The energy sector was ahead 0.3% with August crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange down 86 cents to a three-week low of US$105.08 a barrel. Prices had drifted higher to almost US$107 in June amid a growing insurgency in Iraq, but have since fallen the fighting has stayed well away from the south where most of Iraq’s oil production is located.With files from BloombergTOP STORIESCanadian dollar moves above 94 cents to 2014 high, but rally seen as short livedFed boss says rate moves not the way to address ‘pockets of increased risk-taking’ in financial systemFacebook investigated after manipulating users’ emotions in news feed study without consentMove over, oil sands: Shale powers rebound in deals for Canada’s energy sectorWHAT’S ON DECK THURSDAYCANADA8:30 a.m.Merchandise Trade Balance (May): Economists expect a deficit of $300,000 UNITED STATES8:30 a.m.Employment Report: Economists expect a gain of 215,000 jobs and the jobless rate to hold at 6.3% Weekly jobless claims: Economists expect 313,000 new claims, up from last week Goods and Services Trade Balance (May): Economists expect a deficit of $45-billion Non-manufacturing ISM Index (June): Economists expect a reading of 56.3 read more

DHX Media just scored a deal to distribute Slugterra toys in Burger

HALIFAX — A Halifax company has scored a deal to promote its “Slugterra” animated TV series through Burger King restaurants.DHX Media Ltd. says the fast-food chain has agreed to distribute four Slugterra toys this month in kids’ meals around the world.The company didn’t disclose financial details of the deal.The Slugterra toys are based on a creation by Vancouver-based animation studio Nerd Corps Entertainment, which has since been purchased by DHX Media.DHX Media expected to overcome loss of Disney licenceCorus Entertainment snaps up Disney content from DHX Media, plans to launch Disney channel in CanadaDHX has been expanding its kid- and youth-oriented entertainment business beyond the creation and distribution of programs such as “Inspector Gadget,” “Caillou” and the “Degrassi” franchise for teens and young adults.Among other things, DHX acquired Family and other Canadian specialty channels that were formerly part of the Astral lineup. read more

Canadians mostly happy with grocers despite breadprice fixing scheme survey

TORONTO — A new survey suggests Canadians still have a strong relationship with their grocer — with only about a third of respondents saying their view of their favoured retailer has worsened following revelations of an alleged industry-wide bread price-fixing scandal.The annual online survey by Argyle Public Relationships and Leger Research found 47 per cent of respondents said their views about their grocer didn’t change following allegations that at least seven Canadian grocers and bakery wholesalers co-ordinated the price of bread and related products for more than a decade.Nine per cent said the revelations significantly worsened their view, while 13 per cent said it improved their opinion of their retailer.Survey respondents over 45 years of age, as well as those who shop at Sobeys, Freshco or Loblaws were the most concerned.The annual relationships index found Canadians’ relationship with grocers is stronger than with brands in any other category surveyed since 2016, including banks and airlines.Grocery retailers scored between 68 and 74 out of 100 possible points in a public relations index that averages public ratings of how the brand respondents know best performs on six items, including trust, satisfaction and concern for people.Three Loblaw Companies Ltd. banners — No Frills, Loblaws and the Real Canadian Superstore — received the lowest scores of the 10 grocery retailers included in the survey, despite offering customers a $25 gift card as a goodwill gesture in light of the company’s participation in the alleged price-fixing scheme.Their competitors’ banners, including Sobeys and Metro, outperformed them slightly with scores of 72 and above.More than 1,500 Canadians were surveyed online between January 22 and 25, and February 12 and 15 for this edition of the index.The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.Companies in this story: (TSX:L, TSX:MRU) read more

Abductors arrested

The police said that they had arrested a group of abductors who had demanded ransom for the release of a woman and her child in Udugama.A 28 year old woman and her child were abducted on May 19 from their residence after the abductors broke into the house. The woman and the child were taken away in a van by the abductors who had later demanded Rs, 500,000 as ransom. The police said that the suspects had attempted to obtain Rs.  2,500,000 as ransom. Both the woman and the child were found the very next day, the police media unit said today. The police said that four suspects were arrested over the incident and a hand grenade was also recovered.Meanwhile in a separate incident the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) arrested three suspects in Mawanela over an attempt to abduct a person and obtain ransom. read more

Jaffna DIG top cops transferred

The police headquarters announced the transfer of several policemen including the Jaffna Deputy Inspector General of Police Erick Perera with effect from tomorrow.Others being transferred are DIG Ravi Wijegunawardena from Trincomalee, DIG K. Jayaweera from Vavuniya and DIG N.D. Daluwatte from Killinochchi. The police headquarter said that the Ministry of Defence had approved the police transfers.In all, 15 police officers will be transferred from tomorrow, the police media unit said. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Gold biscuits seized from passenger at BIA

Gold biscuits valued at Rs 2 million, were seized from a passenger who arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this morning.The Customs Department said that the Sri Lankan male, aged 49, had arrived from Singapore on a Srilankan Airlines flight. When his baggage was checked the authorities found 4 gold biscuits hidden inside weighing 400g, the Customs Department media unit said.The gold biscuits were confiscated and a penalty of Rs. 50,000 was imposed on the man. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Southern Provincial Council votes against 20th Amendment

Under the proposed 20th Amendment elections to all Provincial Councils will be held in one day.Last week the North Central Provincial Council approved the 20th Amendment to the Constitution while the Uva Provincial Council voted against it. The Southern Provincial Council today voted against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.The drafty bill on the 20th Amendment was rejected with 27 members voting against it. The opposition walked out at the time of the vote. The draft Bill on the 20th Amendment to Constitution was presented to Parliament last week. (Colombo Gazette) read more

IMF decides to resume program discussions with Sri Lanka

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decided to resume discussions on a funding programme with Sri Lanka.Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), met with Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy in Washington. Lagarde said they agreed that a strong policy mix, with effective implementation of that agenda, is key to strengthening confidence, while putting Sri Lanka on a sustainable, high-quality growth path that would benefit its people. “The IMF remains ready to support the Sri Lankan authorities in these endeavors and an IMF team is scheduled to visit Colombo in mid-February to resume program discussions.”The IMF had suspended the funding programme with Sri Lanka during the political crisis last year. (Colombo Gazette) “I was pleased to meet with Minister Samaraweera and Governor Coomaraswamy this afternoon. We discussed the challenging economic environment and the policy priorities for the country. The authorities stressed Sri Lanka’s continued commitment to their economic reform agenda under the IMF-supported program,” Lagarde said following the meeting. read more