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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the closing of the market in New York, August 15, 2013. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the closing of the market in New York, August 15, 2013. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

At the open: Stocks head higher, Sears shares soar Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was higher Tuesday amid a stream of earnings reports and a major real estate deal involving Sears Canada (TSX:SCC).

The retailer will get $400-million from its landlords for vacating five department stores by the end of February, including its flagship location in Toronto’s Eaton Centre. Sears shares gained 96 cents or 7.1 per cent to $14.50.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 37.02 points to 13,408.86.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.01 of a cent to 95.75 cents US.

U.S. indexes were higher as traders also looked to the start of a scheduled, two-day interest rate meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve. They are particularly interested in the Fed’s wrap-up announcement for any hints as to when the central bank might start to move on cutting back on key stimulus involving the monthly purchase of US$85-billion of bonds.

The Dow Jones industrials gained 53.88 points to 15,622.81, the Nasdaq was up 9.86 points to 3,949.99 and the S&P 500 index rose 5.17 points to 1,767.28.

Markets had previously expected the Fed to begin withdrawing stimulus this year but expectations have shifted to next year as the pace of improvement in the U.S. economy faded. Also, economists are still trying to gauge the cost of the political wrangling earlier this month that resulted in a partial shutdown of the U.S. government.

Traders also took in a soft reading on retail sales for September.

Overall, retail sales dipped 0.1 per cent in the weakest showing since March. That was largely due to the sales calendar pulling Labour Day weekend activity into August. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.5 per cent in September, up from 0.2 per cent in August.

On the earnings front, Apple shares were flat at US$528.88 after reporting after the close Monday that quarterly earnings came in at US$7.5-billion, or $8.26 per share, during the quarter, down from $8.2-billion, or $8.67 per share, last year. That beat expectations of $7.92 per share while revenue rose four per cent to $37.5-billion, again topping expectations.

But Apple’s earnings have now fallen from the previous year in three consecutive quarters after a decade of steady growth.

That deterioration has been reflected in a drop of about 25 per cent, or about $160-billion, in Apple’s share price. But Apple remains the world’s most valuable company, despite the downturn.

Drugmaker Pfizer’s quarterly profit dropped 19 per cent to $2.59-billion, or 39 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, Pfizer says net income would have been $3.86-billion, or 58 cents per share, two cents better than expected. Revenue totalled $12.64-billion, down two per cent from a year ago and lower than the $12.69-billion that analysts had expected. Its stock drifted 47 cents higher to $31.21.

Nokia reported a third-quarter net loss of €91-million as revenue plunged more than 20 per cent to €5.6-billion. The struggling company said that it sold 8.8 million Lumia smartphones, up from 3 million a year earlier, but gave a negative outlook for its devices and services operations it is selling to Microsoft Corp. Its stock ran ahead 57 cents or 8.45 per cent to $7.32.

The consumer discretionary segment led the TSX, up 0.52 per cent as information giant Thomson Reuters Inc. (TSX:TRI) says it will record US$350-million of accounting items related to a restructuring of its Financial & Risk business unit. The restructuring charge was announced along with the Thomson’s third-quarter results, which showed revenue from the Finance & Risk unit was down compared with a year ago while other units showed increases. Thomson’s adjusted earnings for the three months ended Sept. 30 was 48 cents per share and its shares advanced 91 cents to $38.23.

Financials also helped take the TSX higher as Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) climbed 49 cents to $63.10.

Commodities were mixed with the December crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange down 43 cents to US$98.25 a barrel. The energy sector gained 0.45 per cent while Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) improved by 32 cents to C$13.23.

The gold sector led declines, down 1.3 per cent while December bullion shed $3.50 to US$1,348.70 an ounce. Goldcorp (TSX:G) faded 49 cents to C$27.82.

The base metals segment slipped 0.1 per cent while December copper rose two cents to US$3.29 a pound. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) declined 28 cents to C$19.08.

The TSX registered a slight, 28-point decline Monday as investors nibbled at profits racked up during a positive October that has left the Toronto market up about seven per cent year to date. The TSX has risen for the past four, straight weeks amid positive earnings news and growing confidence about steady economic growth in Europe and China.

European bourses advanced with London’s FTSE 100 index up 0.55 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was up 0.25 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 advanced 0.5 per cent.

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