The Toronto stock market edged slightly higher Wednesday amid rising commodity prices, a quiet economic calendar and a potential major shift in the Canadian retail landscape.
U.S. retailer Sears Holdings Corp. is considering selling its 51 per cent interest in Sears Canada as the retailer continues with efforts to turn around its business. Sears Holdings previously sold some store leases in Canada. Its overall business has been struggling after years of sales declines and it has been closing some unprofitable stores. Its shares were up 36 cents to $43.59 (U.S.) in New York, while Sears Canada shares ran up 68 cents or 4.3 per cent to $16.44 (Canadian).
The S&P/TSX composite index gained 11.00 points to 14,690.81 while the Canadian dollar rose 0.07 of a cent to 91.73 cents (U.S.).
U.S. indexes were lower as the Dow Jones industrials dropped 63.96 points to 16,651.48, the Nasdaq shed 10.96 points to 4,119.21 and the S&P index was off 5.07 points to 1,892.38.
In earnings news, overnight service Cargojet reports a first quarter net loss of $1.6-million, or 19 cents per share, compared with a loss of $407,000, or five cents per share, in the same quarter of 2013. Revenues were up 7.4 per cent to $43.7-million and its shares eased 18 cents to $20.86.
Deere is reporting a 9.5 per cent decline in second-quarter net income to $980.7-million, or $2.65 per share, compared with $1.08-billion, or $2.76 per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue fell 8.9 per cent to $9.95-billion on lower demand for farming equipment. Deere expects a four per cent drop in equipment revenue for fiscal 2014, the same decrease it’s expecting for the current quarter and its shares were down $1.52 to $92.09.
Sony Corp. sank to a 138-billion yen ($1.3-billion) quarterly loss, hit by costs from selling its personal computer business. The maker of the PlayStation 4 game console, Bravia TVs and Walkman digital player also reported Wednesday a loss of 128.4-billion yen for the fiscal year through March 2014, about three times its loss of 41.5-billion yen the previous year. In New York, its shares backed off 5.34 per cent to $16.70.
Investors will look to results from Cisco Systems after the close.
On the commodity markets, the TSX gold sector led advancers, up one per cent while June bullion rose $10 to $1,304.80 an ounce.
The energy sector edged 0.37 per cent higher as June crude in New York gained 62 cents to $102.32 a barrel.
July copper gained two cents to $3.16 a pound and the base metals component climbed 0.17 per cent.
Tech stocks led TSX decliners with BlackBerry down 13 cents to $7.99 (Canadian).
On the economic front, the prices U.S. companies receive for their goods and services rose by the most in seven months in April, led by more expensive food and higher retail and wholesale profit margins. The U.S. Labor Department said that the producer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 per cent from March to April, after a 0.5 per cent increase from February to March. The gains suggest that inflation is picking up from very low levels.