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A trader is reflected in a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the opening bell in New York, January 2, 2014. (CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)
A trader is reflected in a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the opening bell in New York, January 2, 2014. (CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)

At the open: Commodities pull TSX lower Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was slightly lower Thursday amid mixed commodity prices and a warning from transport giant Bombardier that its flagship new airliner will be going into service later than expected.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 12.77 points to 13,759.81.

Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) shares were 19 cents lower to $4.33 after the company announced the delay concerning its new CSeries aircraft.

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It said that the CS100 won’t be going into service until the second half of 2015, while the larger CS300 will go into service about six months later. The initial CSeries planes were previously expected to be ready for service late this year or early in 2015.

The company also announced a firm agreement to sell 16 CS300 aircraft to a Saudi Arabian airline, which has an option for additional 10 aircraft. The order for the 16 aircraft is valued at approximately $1.21-billion (U.S.), the value of the contract would increase to $1.99-billion if all 10 options are exercised.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.27 of a cent to 91.64 cents (U.S.).

U.S. indexes were also lower amid earnings reports from the banking sector and data showing a continuing decline in jobless insurance claims and tame inflation.

The Dow Jones industrials fell 59.66 points to 16,422.28, the Nasdaq declined 8.34 points to 4,206.55 while the S&P 500 index shed 4.92 points to 1,843.46.

Goldman Sachs turned in fourth quarter earnings per share of $4.60, higher than the $4.22 that analysts had forecast. Revenue came in at $8.78-billion versus the $7.713-billion that was expected but its stock lost early momentum and turned down $1.37 to $177.38.

Citigroup fell $1.78 to $53.21 as the bank posted earnings per share ex-items of 82 cents versus the 95 cents that analysts had forecast. Revenue was $17.94-billion, weaker than the $18.18 analysts expected.

On the economic front, the U.S. consumer price index rose a slight 0.3 per cent during December, translating into an annualized rate of 1.5 per cent.

And the Labor Department said that claims for jobless benefits declined last week by 2,000 to 326,000, which was in line with expectations.

This was the first glimpse of the job market since the release last Friday of a disappointing employment that showed job creation coming in at 74,000, far less than the 200,000 that had been expected.

That data raised a fresh round of questions about how the Federal Reserve will proceed on further cutting back on its massive monthly bond purchases which have kept long term rates low and encouraged a strong rally on equity markets.

It said last month as it cut monthly bond purchases by $10-billion to $75-billion that further tapering depended on the strength of the economy, particularly job creation.

Falling railroad stocks also helped depress the industrials sector by 0.66 per cent. Canadian National Railways fell 68 cents to $59.05 (Canadian) while Canadian Pacific Railway lost $1.99 to $162.26.

Financials also dragged as Manulife Financial gave back 20 cents to $21.76.

The metals and mining sector led advancers, up 1.4 per cent while March copper declined one cent to $3.35 a pound. Teck Resources gained 54 cents to $27.86.

February bullion climbed $4.50 to $1,242.80 (U.S.) an ounce and the gold sector climbed 0.55 per cent. Iamgold climbed 10 cents to $4.28.

The energy group was up a slight 0.15 per cent as February crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange declined 19 cents to $93.98 (U.S.) a barrel.

In other corporate news, Montreal-based food company Saputo is closer to acquiring Australia’s oldest dairy processor. Bega Cheese Ltd. says it will sell its 18.8 per cent stake in Warrnambool Cheese & Butter to Saputo. Prior to Bega’s announcement, Saputo had acquired about one-quarter of Warrnambool’s stock. Saputo continues to face one rival, Australia’s Murray Goulburn, which owns about 17.7 per cent of Warrnambool. Saputo gained seven cents to $51.01.

Sears Canada is cutting more than 1,600 positions as the company looks for ways to lower expenses. The retailer has eliminated 283 jobs at warehouses across much of the country and it will also outsource the 1,345 associate jobs at its three customer call centres in Toronto, Montreal and Belleville, Ont., over the next nine months. Its shares dipped a penny to $12.90.

And Best Buy shares plunged 29 per cent in New York as it said Thursday that a key sales barometer fell during the holiday shopping season. Best Buy Co. said comparable store sales dipped 0.8 per cent for the nine weeks ended Jan. 4. This was better than the 1.7 per cent decline in the prior-year period European bourses were mixed as London’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.08 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was down 0.06 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 declined 0.2 per cent.

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