TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed slightly higher Tuesday thanks to a positive earnings report from Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) and rising gold stocks.
But the TSX was held back by Research In Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM), which lost ground for a second day ahead of the unveiling of its new BlackBerry 10 products.
The S&P/TSX composite index gained 14.64 points to 12,830.56 while the TSX Venture Exchange climbed 14.04 points to 1,231.92.
The Canadian dollar found some equilibrium after a string of losses, rising 0.41 of a cent to 99.76 cents US.
The dollar had tumbled about 1.4 cents US since the Bank of Canada indicated last Wednesday that it will be slower to raise interest rates than had been expected because of economic weakness. Higher rates tend to attract investors and push up the currency.
U.S. indexes were mixed amid data showing improving house prices along with a decline in consumer confidence during January with the Dow industrials ahead 72.49 points to 13,954.42.
The Nasdaq was 0.64 of a point lower to 3,153.66 while the S&P 500 edged up 7.66 points to 1,507.84.
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (TSX:CP) says its profit was cut to $15 million or eight cents per share in the fourth quarter amid a number of restructuring expenses. On an adjusted basis, however, CP's earning rose by 17 cents from a year earlier to $1.28 per share, in line with analyst estimates. Its shares climbed $3.45 to $116.22, a far cry from its 52-week low of $70.61, prior to the shakeup forced on the railway by Bill Ackman, the head of hedge fund Pershing Square, which is the single biggest CP shareholder.
"When you have an investor activist come in and basically force out the CEO — which was the first step — and bring in changes of this magnitude, you’re not going to see the end results of it overnight," said Gareth Watson, vice-president investment management and research at Richardson GMP Ltd.
"So it is going to take time but, if they start delivering as the street expects them to, I think that sends a signal they’re on the right track and I think that’s what the market is probably rewarding them for."
Investors continued to take profits from Research In Motion Ltd.'s (TSX:RIM) spectacular runup this month ahead of the unveiling of its BlackBerry 10 lineup Wednesday in New York. RIM stock was off the worst levels of the session, closing down 56 cents or 3.44 per cent to $15.71 on top of a 7.6 per cent slide Monday. As of Friday, RIM stock had soared 50 per cent during January.
The smartphones are widely seen as a make-or-break product for the Waterloo, Ont., company.
"It needs to be judged on the ability of this device to attract back subscribers that left RIM for other handheld devices," said Watson.
"Will they come back in droves? I'm not so convinced. I hope they prove me wrong. At this stage, to proclaim victory before the game has even started I think is a bit silly and I think that’s why you have seen some pullback here in the stock."
Ford Motor Co. was a weight on the Dow, even as the automaker earned $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter or 31 cents per share, which beat analysts’ forecast of 25 cents per share. But its shares fell 64 cents or 4.64 per cent to US$13.14 because of a worse than expected outlook for sales in Europe, where many countries are in recession.
Drugmaker Pfizer was the biggest gainer on the Dow, rising 86 cents to $27.70 after the company said its fourth-quarter profit more than quadrupled because of a $4.8-billion gain from selling its nutrition business, despite competition from generic drugs hurting sales.
On the economic front, the widely watched Case-Shiller Index showed U.S. house prices rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.63 per cent in November, slightly below expectations for a 0.7 per cent gain. That translated into an annual rate of 5.52 per cent which was in line with expectations and the highest since 2006.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board in the U.S. reported that its consumer confidence index for January came in at 58.6, down from 66.7 in December.
The TSX gold sector advanced about one per cent while February gold on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $7.90 to US$1,660.80 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) improved by 60 cents to C$36.11 while Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K) rose 11 cents to $8.47.
The telecom sector was supportive, up 0.54 per cent as Telus Corp. (TSX:T) climbed 83 cents to $66.52 while BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) climbed 29 cents to $44.86.
The energy sector was slightly higher as the March crude contract added $1.13 to US$97.57 a barrel. Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) declined 79 cents to $44.06 and Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) ran up 37 cents to $31.30.
The base metals sector was slightly lower with March copper on the Nymex up three cents at US$3.69 a pound. Capstone Mining (TSX:CS) gained four cents to C$2.51 while Rio Alto Mining (TSX:RIO) was up nine cents to $5.38.
Elsewhere on the earnings front, shares in Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU.A) slipped a dime to $64.02 as the grocer increased its quarterly dividend to 25 cents from 21.5 cents. The company also reported an 11 per cent increase in net earnings from continuing operations for its fiscal first quarter to $115 million, or $1.16 per diluted share. That beat estimates by a penny per share. Sales revenue was up 2.7 per cent to $2.7 billion in the quarter, slightly below forecasts.
North American markets are ending January trading on a positive note thanks to a better than expected U.S. earnings season and relief that U.S. politicians managed to avoid pushing the economy over the so-called fiscal cliff and reached a temporary agreement on raising the debt ceiling.
The TSX is up just over three per cent for the month. The Dow industrials have charged ahead to a series of fresh five year highs and are up more than six per cent.