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The screens at the TMX Broadcast Centre in Toronto are pictured on on Wednesday, July 11, 2012. (Matthew Sherwood For The Globe and Mail)
The screens at the TMX Broadcast Centre in Toronto are pictured on on Wednesday, July 11, 2012. (Matthew Sherwood For The Globe and Mail)

At the open: S&P 500 hits record high; Yellow Media shares jump Add to ...

The Toronto Stock Market had a mixed opening Tuesday, dragged down by dropping commodity prices amid earnings reports from a number of big-name companies, including food distributor George Weston Ltd. and airline WestJet.

The S&P/TSX composite index was last down 8 points at 12,445 but had flickered into positive territory shortly after the open.

U.S. indexes were all positive, with the Dow Jones industrials ahead 41.28 points to 15,010.17 — hitting the 15,000 mark again after reaching that threshold for the first time on Friday.

The Nasdaq climbed 6.55 to 3,399.52 and the S&P 500 advanced 5.19 points to 1,622.69 after hitting a record intraday high of 1,624..

Meanwhile, commodity prices were generally weaker, with June gold bullion falling $20.90 to $1,447.10 an ounce and July copper down two cents at $3.29 a pound.

The June crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was unchanged at US$96.16 a barrel.

Canada’s second-largest airline reported its “best ever” quarter. Calgary-based WestJet says its first-quarter net income rose by a third to $91.1 million or 68 cents per share from $68.3 million or 49 cents per share in the same 2012 period. Total revenue was up 8.6 per cent at $967.2 million from $891 million a year ago. However, it shares were down 2.45 per cent at $24.11.

Food processor and distributor giant George Weston Ltd. (TSX:WN) reported an almost 34 per cent increase in is first-quarter net earnings, due to foreign currency translation and amendments to its defined benefit pension plan.

The majority owner of supermarket chain Loblaw Companies Ltd (TSX:L) and Weston Foods says net income attributable to common shareholders was $162 million or $1.19 per share. That was up 33.9 per cent from $121 million or 87 cents per share in the same period a year ago. Sales improved 3.7 per cent to $7.49 billion from $7.22 billion. However, its shares were down 36 cents at $80.73.

Yellow Media Ltd. (TSX:Y) reported a big turnaround in its first-quarter bottom line compared with a year ago when the publisher of print and digital media directories took a massive $2.9-billion goodwill impairment. Its net income in the three months ended March 31 was $53.5 million or $1.91 per share, compared with a net loss of $2.87 billion or $102.93 per share in the same 2012 period. Revenues, however, continued to decline, falling to $253.3 million from $289.1 million a year ago. Its shares jumped ahead 71 cents, or about 7 per cent, to $9.90.

But it wasn’t all positive news from the corporate sector.

Oil firm Husky Energy (TSX:HSE) said its first-quarter profit was down from a year ago, as the price for its heavy crude oil came under pressure. The company said it earned $535 million or 54 cents per diluted share, down from $591 million or 60 cents per diluted share a year ago. Revenue net of royalties were $5.6 billion, down from $5.77 billion. Its shares were up 24 cents to $30.16.

Brewer Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP) says net profit plummeted by more than half to US$36.5 million in the first quarter. The decrease was largely attributable to its central European acquisition, which also boosted net sales by nearly 20 per cent to US$828.5 million. The underlying pre-tax income of its Canadian business decreased 18.9 per cent to US$37.3 million on lower beer volumes.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei index hit above 14,000 for the first time since 2008 in its first day of trading since the market closed for the Golden Week holiday. The Nikkei 225 stock average climbed 3.6 per cent to 14,180.24.

Traders were also still digesting recently released and mainly positive economic and corporate news, including the better-than-expected U.S. payroll figures from Friday. Typically, this data will dictate how the markets will do for a week or two.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.4 per cent at 6,550 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.6 per cent higher to 3,931. Germany’s DAX was trading 0.6 per cent higher at a record 8,191.

Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.6 per cent to 23,047.09, while South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.4 per cent to 1,954.49 . Mainland Chinese shares were higher. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 per cent to 2,235.58 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index added 0.1 per cent to 955.33.

Australia was in focus after the Reserve Bank of Australia lowered its official interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 2.75 per cent amid some signs the economy is coming off the boil as the Australian dollar rises. Following the reduction, the Aussie dollar fell 0.9 per cent to US$1.0169. However, the S&P/ASX 200 stock index fell 0.2 per cent to 5,143.70.

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