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At the open: TSX slides despite soaring BlackBerry shares

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

The Toronto stock market declined after a brief rise Thursday as smartphone maker BlackBerry reported a surprising $23-million first-quarter profit in its latest earnings.

The S&P/TSX composite index lost 22.43 points to 15,086.82, after setting a new record close of 15,109.25 on Wednesday. The last record was set exactly six years to the day in June 2008, just before the Great Recession sent stock markets tumbling.

The Canadian dollar gained 0.23 of a cent to 92.40 cents (U.S.).

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BlackBerry's results, which beat analyst expectations, showed that efforts to remodel the company's smartphone business are making some headway.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based tech firm says the $23-million profit was equal to four cents per share, compared with a loss of $84-million or 16 cents in the same period a year ago. On an adjusted basis, BlackBerry reported a loss of 11 cents per share – also beating analyst estimates of a loss of 26 cents per share. Revenue tumbled to $966-million compared with $3.07-billion a year ago.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the company plans on launching a new keyboard smartphone model called the BlackBerry Passport in September. BlackBerry is also dedicating more resources to serving business and public sector customers after a failed attempt to compete with Apple's iPhone and the various smartphones on the Android operating system that dominate the consumer market.

Shares in BlackBerry jumped more than 14 per cent, or $1.27, to $10.27 (Canadian).

U.S. indexes were barely changed, as traders digested news that the Federal Reserve isn't too worried about rising inflation, and gave no hints about when it might start raising interest rates. Most economists think a rate increase is still at least a year away. The Fed also announced that it'll continue to reduce its monthly bond buyback program by $10-billion– to $35-billion a month starting in July, as signs of a recovering U.S. economy continue to emerge.

The Dow Jones industrials jumped 7.19 points to 16,913.81, the Nasdaq climbed 1.73 points at 4,364.57 and the S&P 500 futures was up by 1.72 points to 1,958.70.

Meanwhile, the commodity markets were mixed as the geopolitical instability in Iraq continued.

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The TSX energy sector was barely changed, down by 0.05 per cent, as the July crude contract dipped 59 cents to $105.38 (U.S.) a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Traders bought more gold, sending the price of August bullion up $20.50 to $1,293.20 an ounce. The sector was the leading advancer on the Toronto market, rising by 2.59 per cent.

July copper was unchanged at $3.06 a pound.

In Iraq, troops and Islamic militants battled for control of Iraq's largest oil refinery, which by late Wednesday remained in government hands.

All of the facility's output is used domestically so crude production and exports aren't affected but the violence underscores how the fighting may threaten the energy infrastructure that Iraq is rebuilding to meet global demand.

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