Times Colonist

Commoditie­s boost Toronto

- DEREK ABMA

Yesterday was another one of those days when the fortunes of commodity stocks made the difference between a losing and winning day on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and this time it was the latter.

Thanks to stocks in the energy and materials sectors, the S&P/TSX composite index finished in the positive by 99.45 points or 0.7 per cent, at 14,814.18. The Venture composite index, however, was down 5.11 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,651.89.

It happened as U.S. stocks were losing ground, and industry sectors such as financials and technology saw losses on Bay Street.

“The resource sectors have been our saviours all year,” said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading for ScotiaMcLe­od in Toronto.

Looking at some of the commodity pricing in New York that had investors in Toronto feeling good, gold was up $5.50 to $897 US an ounce, and crude oil was up 41 cents to $127.76 US a barrel. Natural gas surged 26.6 cents to $11.969 US per million British thermal units.

The TSX energy index was the strongest sector sub-measure, gaining 1.8 per cent. It included a rise in Canadian Oil Sands Trust, which was up $1.11, or 2.2 per cent, to $51.15. Crescent Point Energy Trust units were up $2.22, or 6.1 per cent, to $38.35.

The materials index was up 1.4 per cent. It was led by Potash Corp. of Saskatchew­an Inc., which had the biggest dollar gain on the TSX. It was up $6.04, or 3.1 per cent, to $203.37. Gold shares benefited from higher bullion prices. Goldcorp Inc. was up 76 cents, or 1.9 per cent, to $40.73.

The Canadian dollar fell below parity with the U.S. greenback, losing 82 basis points to close at 99.88 cents US.

Looking at factors that hurt nonresourc­e stocks in Toronto, and with U.S. markets in general, down, Ketchen cited negative signals from the U.S. financial industry. They included Standard & Poor’s downgradin­g of banking stocks such as Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. As well, Wachovia Corp. announced it had encouraged CEO Ken Thompson to take an early retirement after a series of “disappoint­ments and setbacks” under his leadership.

The TSX financials index was down 0.3 per cent. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was off by 99 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $68.83. Toronto-Dominion Bank fell 94 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $70.95.

The informatio­n-technology index was down 0.5 per cent. CGI Group Inc. was down 27 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $10.42. Research In Motion Ltd. fell 21 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $137.20.

The biggest dollar decliner among significan­tly traded TSX stocks yesterday was Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., falling $2.14, or 2.9 per cent, to $70.44. The industrial­s index, which it is part of, was up 0.1 per cent. Among the gainers in this sector was Bombardier Inc., rising 30 cents, or 3.8 per cent, to $8.20.

The main U.S. indexes were all down by at least a full percentage point. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 134.50 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 12,503.82. The Nasdaq composite index was down 31.13 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 2,491.53. The S&P 500 was off by 14.71 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 1,385.67.

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