UPDATE 4-Toronto stocks edge higher, helped by RIM, Potash

Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:20pm EST
 
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 (Adds details, quotes)
 By Leah Schnurr
 TORONTO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's
main index managed a small gain on Thursday as sharp rises in
the shares of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO and Research
In Motion RIM.TO helped offset a slide in banking shares.
 Research In Motion RIM.TO gained C$4.43, or 4 percent, to
C$106.52, lifting the tech sector 0.6 percent, ahead of the
release of the BlackBerry-maker's quarterly results.
 After the closing bell, RIM beat expectations for its
third-quarter profit, but delivered a subscriber outlook that
fell short of what analysts had predicted.
 The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 17.19
points, or 0.13 percent, at 13,407.01 with seven of the TSX's
10 main groups higher. The index has had small gains for two
days in a row, but has closed lower in four out of six
sessions.
 The index is down 2 percent so far for December, a month
that has historically been a positive one.
 "We definitely did not get a Santa Claus rally this year,
given that it looks like even Santa himself has got credit
problems," said John Ing, president of Maison Placements
Canada.
 The materials group added 1.3 percent on Thursday, pulled
higher by net gain leader Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO,
which was up C$7.95, or 6.4 percent, at C$131.96.
 But the gold subsector was off 0.6 percent as gold prices
slipped on the firmer U.S. dollar. Yamana Gold Inc YRI.TO
fell 33 Canadian cents, or 2.8 percent, to C$11.61, and Barrick
Gold ABX.TO was down 24 Canadian cents, or 0.6 percent, at
C$37.40.
 The banking sector lost 1 percent as North American
financial stocks were rattled by a larger-than-expected loss
from U.S. investment bank Bear Stearns Cos Inc BSC.N.
 As well, MBIA Inc MBI.N, the world's largest bond
insurer, said it has exposure to $30.6 billion in complex
mortgage securities that it insures. The amount is larger than
its entire net worth.
 In Toronto, all of the major banks declined, including
Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO, which fell C$1.20, or 1.7
percent, to C$68.85.
 Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO was down 63
Canadian cents, or 0.9 percent, at C$70.51 the day after it
warned of the possibility of a "large charge" in its
first-quarter results due to its exposure to the U.S. subprime
market.
 Analysts said the index was also seeing the effects of
tax-loss selling, the practice at the end of the year of
selling underperforming stocks to claim the losses against
income taxes.
 "I never really take a lot of reading out of what happens
in these last couple weeks of December until the tax-loss
selling's behind us," said Brian Pow, vice-president, research
and equity analyst at Acumen Capital Partners, in Calgary,
Alberta.
 "I think for 2008, the early weeks are going to be telling
days in terms of what the year may look like," Pow added.
 In individual stock activity, shares of specialty metals
producer Timminco Ltd TIM.TO hit a record high after the
company announced a new contract and the start of production at
its solar silicon producing unit at Becancour, Quebec.
 Timminco finished up C$2.95, or 18.9 percent, at C$18.53
after earlier hitting a record C$19.25.
 Market volume was 399 million shares worth C$6.2 billion.
Decliners outpaced advancers 890 to 782. The blue chip S&P/TSX
60 index .TSE60 closed up 1.79 points, or 0.23 percent, at
784.30.
 In New York, luster in the tech sector also raised stocks
after software maker Oracle Corp ORCL.O posted positive
profit and outlook.
 The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended up 38.37
points, or 0.29 percent, at 13,245.64, and the Nasdaq Composite
Index .IXIC rose 39.85 points, or 1.53 percent, to 2,640.86.
 ($1=$1.00 Canadian)
 (Editing by Peter Galloway)