U.S. stock indexes opened slightly in positive territory, while the S&P/TSX composite index dipped into the red, as U.S. economic data this morning failed to provide much inspiration for the rally to continue.
At 1017 a.m. (ET), the S&P TSX composite index was down 43 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 12,657; the S&P 500 was up a fractional 0.01 per cent and the Dow Jones industrial average was up 17 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 14,543.
Research In Motion Ltd. shares opened up about 5 per cent in heavy volume, after trading indecisively in and out the green in premarket trading. By 1017 a.m. (ET), RIM shares had given some of those gains back, and were up 2 per cent.
RIM, also known as BlackBerry, posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings this morning. Adjusted earnings were 22 cents a share; analysts were looking for a loss of around 30 cents. But sales of $2.68-billion missed the average analyst estimate of $2.83-billion. BlackBerry shipments largely came in as analysts had forecast.
In the end, however, the latest report didn't ignite much fresh direction in the stock given the big question now - how its new BlackBerry 10 devices will sell in the U.S. - is still an unknown. The new devices only came on sale in the U.S. earlier this month, and those shipments were not reflected in the fourth-quarter results.
Economic data today weren't particularly encouraging. The latest revision to U.S. fourth-quarter GDP showed growth of 0.4 per cent, up from the previous revision of 0.1 per cent, but less than the 0.6 per cent that economists were looking for. U.S. jobless claims rose 16,000 last week to 357,000, which was higher than the 340,000 economists were looking for.
Here at home, Statistics Canada said gross domestic product in January rose 0.2 per cent, matching December's gain. Year-over-year, GDP expanded 1 per cent during the month, up from 0.7 per cent in December, and beating expectations of 0.9 per cent. But the Canadian dollar is largely unchanged this morning.
Europe continues to be a major focus in markets. Banks in Cyprus today began to reopen after a nearly two-week closure amid the country's bailout efforts. Reports this morning suggest there haven't been panic withdrawals, which are subject to new rules curbing access to cash.
There was some good news on the European economic data front this morning, with German retail sales unexpectedly rising to a seasonally adjusted 0.4 per cent last month from January. Economists were looking for a 0.6 per cent fall.
Asian markets were mixed overnight, with Shanghai taking a big tumble of 2.8 per cent after financial regulators tightened rules on banks' wealth-management products and the cabinet called for new measures to deregulate interest rates. Chinese financial stocks were particularly hard hit.