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Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp. is selling its entire coal business to two separate buyers for a total of $946-million. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo)
Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp. is selling its entire coal business to two separate buyers for a total of $946-million. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo)

At the open: TSX rises as Sherritt sells coal business Add to ...

The Toronto stock market began a shortened trading day Tuesday in the green, amid news that one of Canada’s largest coal producers is getting out of that business to focus on metals and energy.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 24.06 points to 13,471.76. The Canadian dollar fell 0.10 of a cent to 94.10 cents (U.S.).

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It’s expected to be a quiet day for equities in Toronto and the U.S., with the Toronto exchange closing at 1 p.m. ET for Christmas Eve. The TSX will remain closed until Friday while markets in New York will reopen on Thursday, which is the Boxing Day holiday in Canada.

On Wall Street, indexes were also positive after the Dow Jones and the broader measure, the S&P, both hit record highs at the close on Monday.

The Dow Jones jumped 22.96 points to 16,317.57, the Nasdaq fell 4.51 points to 4,153.41 and the S&P 500 saw an uptick of 1.14 points to 1,822.20.

Sherritt International Corp. says it’s selling its entire coal business in Canada to two separate buyers for a total of $946-million.

Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co. will buy Sherritt’s mines in Alberta and Saskatchewan for $465-million. While Altius Minerals of St. John’s, N.L., will buy the company’s entire coal royalty portfolio and coal development projects for $481-million. Sherritt will continue to run its other resource businesses in several countries. The company’s shares rose 25 cents, or 7.10 per cent to $3.62.

Sherritt also said it has received a demand from Clarke Inc. for a special shareholders meeting to remove certain independent directors from the company’s board. Sherritt said it received the requisition late Monday as it was finalizing the coal deal and will respond in due time after its board reviews the demand.

Sherritt currently has eight independent directors on a nine-member board, which includes its chief executive as the only management member.

Centerra Gold Inc. says it has reached a non-binding agreement with the Kyrgyz government and Kyrgyzaltyn JSC, a state-owned company.

If completed as announced, the deal will reorganize the ownership of the politically-sensitive Kumtor gold project with the Krygyz state company exchanging its one-third interest in Centerra for 50 per cent of a joint venture that will own Kumtor. Centerra will own the other half and manage the operation. It’s shares climbed 32 cents, or more than eight per cent, to $4.29.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that businesses stepped up their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in November. And a key category that signals business investment plans climbed at the fastest pace in 10 months.

The surge in orders for durable goods, which are products expected to last at least three years, was the latest evidence of a rebound in manufacturing. The gains will likely provide support for the economy into 2014.

Orders for durable goods jumped 3.5 per cent last month compared with October, when they had fallen 0.7 per cent. The increase was led by a 21.8 per cent surge in demand for commercial aircraft, which can be volatile.

Commodities markets also rose as the February crude jumped 18 cents to $99.09 (U.S.) a barrel. Gold prices gained $3.50 to $1,200.50 (U.S.) an ounce, while March copper saw an uptick of two cents to $3.33 a pound.

Meanwhile, global stocks gained traction on signs that the U.S. is continuing its economic recovery at a better-than-expected pace.

The advance has also come despite the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to start reducing its monetary stimulus by $10-billion to $75-billion from January. Many had feared the decision to rein in its policy of quantitative easing, or QE, would be negative for stocks as the stimulus has shored up markets over the past few years.

“Earlier fears that the Fed calling time on QE would knock the potential for a classic Santa rally certainly don’t seem to be living up to expectations,” analysts at Monex Capital Markets said.

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