The Toronto stock market held onto a small advance mid-morning Wednesday after resource giant Alcoa Inc. delivered a positive earnings report and outlook.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 12.18 points to 12,516.99, held back by another round of losses in the gold sector, while the TSX Venture Exchange climbed 5.77 points to 1,231.15 amid some major corporate dealmaking.Progress Energy awarded a $5-billion contract to TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) that will see the pipeline company design, build, own and operate the proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project. The project will carry gas from northeastern British Columbia to a proposed export facility near Prince Rupert.Progress, recently acquired by Malaysia’s state-owned energy company, plans to export liquefied natural gas from the port to markets in energy-hungry Asian markets. TransCanada shares climbed 73 cents to $47.98.The Canadian dollar was up 0.05 of a cent to 101.4 cents US amid data showing slightly fewer housing starts last month.Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported that December starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 197,976. That was down slightly from 201,376 in November but still higher than the 195,000 that economists had expected.CMHC said the decline was due to fewer starts in rural areas of the country while Canadian urban starts remained stable.U.S. indexes were positive after Alcoa reported results after the close Tuesday, meeting expectations of quarterly earnings of six cents a share. Revenue of US$5.9 billion beat expectations by $300 million and Alcoa predicted a seven per cent increase in demand this year, slightly better than the six per cent increase in 2012.Alcoa is viewed as a bellwether for the overall economy since its products are used in everything from cars to aircraft to appliances. Its shares were off early highs, up four cents to US$9.14 in New York.The Dow Jones industrials gained 83.73 points to 13,412.58, the Nasdaq was up 17.14 points to 3,108.95 while the S&P 500 index was ahead 7.31 points to 1,464.46.In Canadian earnings news, Shaw Communications Inc. (TSX:SJR.B) says it had $235 million or 50 cents per share of net income in the three months ended Nov. 30. Revenue was $1.32 billion. The results beat consensus estimates compiled ahead of Shaw’s quarterly report, which was issued before shareholders of the cable, Internet and media company gather for their annual meeting in Calgary. Shaw shares gained seven cents to $22.61.Industrials led TSX advancers, up 0.55 per cent with Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) ahead seven cents to $3.93 while WestJet Airlines (TSX:WJA) climbed 22 cents to $20.54. Commodity prices were mixed.The energy component was ahead 0.2 per cent while February crude drifted 31 cents higher to US$93.46 a barrel ahead of the weekly U.S. inventory report. Data for the week ended Jan. 4 is expected to show a rise of 1.5 million barrels for crude oil and an increase of 2.6 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos. The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration releases its crude inventories report later Wednesday.Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) advanced 18 cents to $11.94 and Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) advanced 31 cents to $43.54.The metals and mining sector was also up about 0.2 per cent while March copper on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained three cents to US$3.70 a pound. Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX:TRQ) gained 14 cents to C$9.01.First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX:FM) is sending its takeover offer for Inmet Mining Corp. (TSX:IMN) directly to the copper miner‘s shareholders. First Quantum said last month that it had increased its offer of $72 per Inmet share, half in cash, half in stock, for a total offer worth about $5.1 billion.Inmet’s board rejected the initial $4.9 billion stock and cash offer in November. At the time, Inmet said the “highly conditional offer” was not in the best interest of its shareholders. First Quantum dipped 30 cents to $21.24 while Inmet gained 57 cents to $72.82.The gold sector was down 0.6 per cent while February bullion lost $4.50 to US$1,657.70 an ounce. Kinross Gold (TSX:K) faded 10 cents to C$9.29 and Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) declined 55 cents to $35.26.Bullion and gold stocks have suffered in recent days because of uncertainty about whether the U.S. Federal Reserve might end its stimulus program of bond buying in the second half of 2013.Minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting showed a split over how long to continue the purchases amid concerns that they could destabilize the economy. The bond buying, known as quantitative easing, has supported bullion prices because of worries the program would drive inflation higher.European bourses were higher with London’s FTSE 100 index up 0.95 per cent. Germany’s DAX added 0.44 per cent after official figures showed industrial production rose less than expected in November. The 0.2 per cent gain was also not enough to offset a two per cent fall the previous month and means economic output in Europe’s largest economy overall likely fell in the fourth quarter. The Paris CAC 40 climbed 0.3 per cent.

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Rabat – A new report released on Monday by Global Petrol Prices ranks Morocco among countries where the price of diesel is below the worldwide average (US $0.92 per liter).The report noted that drivers pay on average $0.84 a liter for diesel in Morocco, which is considerably less than the price paid by drivers in Norway’s capital Oslo, at $1.59 a liter, placing Norway among the top three most expensive countries in the world for the said fuel.UK leads the list of world’s most expensive diesel at $1.67 a liter, followed by Israel ($1.60). According to the report, the average diesel price around the world is $0.92 per liter. Yet, there is a substantial difference in prices among the countries studied.As a general rule, wealthier countries have higher prices while underprivileged countries as well as those that produce and export oil, have significantly lower prices.Venezuela is considered the least expensive country in the world to fill up diesel, with $0.01 per liter. Venezuela’s government even subsidizes the fuel and therefore Venezuelans pay close to nothing to drive their vehicles.Libya has the lowest diesel price in the Arab World as it ranked second worldwide with $0.14 per liter, ahead of Saudi Arabia which ranked third with $0.16 per liter.Saudi Arabia is estimated to account for 20-25% of the world’s oil reserves, topping the charts It is also the highest exporter of oil. Kuwait, which has the world’s fifth largest oil reserves landed fourth with an average of $0.21 a liter. It is followed by Algeria, which despite its inexpensive diesel prices, with an average of $0.22 a liter, has suffered from fuel shortages in recent months as traffickers have been smuggling petrol to crisis-torn Libya.Qatar came fifth in the ranking, with an average of $0.26 per liter. The Middle Eastern country has the world’s largest per capita production and proven reserves of natural gas.

The conference in Bali, Indonesia, from 3 to 14 December seeks to determining future action on mitigation, adaptation, the global carbon market and financing responses to climate change for the period after the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol. That pact, appended to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), contains legally binding emission reduction targets through 2012. “The discussions in Vienna on possible future emission reduction commitments for industrialized countries, and on strengthened implementation of the UNFCCC, can form the main building blocks of a new climate change regime,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said. “What I then hope Bali will agree on is a negotiating agenda over the next two years that will craft an effective, long-term post-2012 regime.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will convene a high-level meeting on the issue in New York on 24 September, has said a successor to the Kyoto Protocol must be ready for ratification three years before 2012 to allow time for countries to ratify it. The Vienna meeting from 27 to 31 August – the fourth ‘Workshop under the Dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the Convention and the fourth ‘Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments – involves all 191 Parties to the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC secretariat will present results from the analysis of existing and planned investment flows and finance schemes relevant to the development of effective and appropriate international response to climate change. “This analysis is significant because traditional investment needs to be redirected to more climate-friendly and climate-proof alternatives. Failure to achieve changes in investment and financial flows for mitigation will lead to higher emissions, more climate change impacts and larger financial needs for adaptation in the future,” Mr. de Boer said. The latest meetings follow a series of UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports showing unequivocal evidence that world is warming, almost certainly due to human activity, with potentially disastrous effects including more extreme temperatures, new wind patterns, worsening drought in some regions and heavier rainfall in others, melting glaciers and Arctic ice, and rising global average sea levels. 14 August 2007One thousand representatives from governments, business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions will gather in Vienna at the end of this month to set the stage for a major United Nations conference in December on further reducing the greenhouse gases from human activity blamed for global warming.

9 January 2008The United Nations has authorized $7 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support relief efforts in the aftermath of the post-electoral violence that tore through Kenya last week resulting in the displacement of some 255,000 people. The United Nations has authorized $7 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support relief efforts in the aftermath of the post-electoral violence that tore through Kenya last week resulting in the displacement of some 255,000 people. This initial allocation from the landmark Fund, designed to make resources available quickly for relief operations, will enable UN agencies on the ground to provide vital aid in the areas of food, health, shelter, water and sanitation to those affected by the violence, which reportedly has killed some 350 people, that erupted after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner in the recent election. UN agencies in the country have been working with the Kenya Red Cross Society, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and faith-based groups to address the most urgent needs. The humanitarian consequences of the post-electoral violence were “pretty severe,” not only terms of the number of people killed and injured but also in terms of people being displaced from their homes, the UN’s top aid official told reporters in New York. “The best estimate we have at the moment is an official Government figure of 255,000 people having been displaced from their homes in the course of that violence,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes. “We also estimated that up to 500,000 people altogether may be in need of some assistance over the next weeks and months,” he added, noting that one of the difficulties in assessing the scale of the problem is that people are still moving around, including a “steady trickle” of people crossing out of Kenya. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is continuing to monitor the situation in Uganda, where thousands of people from Kenya have taken refuge. The agency reports that some 3,400 people have so far been registered by the Ugandan Red Cross and more are continuing to arrive. Many of the refugees have camped in schools that are set to re-open for a new school year at the beginning of February, and UNHCR is working with the Ugandan Government to find alternative accommodations. The agency has also made available relief supplies for roughly 100,000 people in Kenya. Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that, in a situation that is far more reminiscent of northern Uganda than Kenya, many people in different parts of the country are going to police stations to sleep for the night for fear of attack. “While they go to their homes or to work during the daytime they do not feel safe enough to sleep in their own beds at night,” UNICEF’s Sara Cameron told reporters in Nairobi, adding that about 1,000 people slept at Tigoni police station the other night. The agency is also very concerned about the impact of the recent crisis on Kenya’s children, at least 100,000 of whom are believed to have been displaced. “We know from experience in many countries that fear can have lasting damaging effects on children,” Ms. Cameron said, noting that effects include bedwetting, withdrawal, bad behaviour and difficulty concentrating at school. “We must expect and prepare to respond to the confusion that many children will feel because of this crisis.” She noted that with the right support children can quickly bounce back and recover from trauma. “The best news for children though will of course be an end to aggression and the brutal discrimination and prejudices which far too many have witnessed recently,” she added. With regard to the impact of the crisis on Kenya’s environment, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today noted that the country’s transport system is not currently running at 100 per cent, which may be compromising waste collection. “The build up of wastes raises serious public health concerns as a result of increased levels of pests and risks to the local environment including river systems and water supplies as a result of leakages and the clogging of sewers,” UNEP spokesperson Nick Nuttall warned. The Nairobi-based agency is monitoring the environmental situation in the country. “While there is likely to be little or no significant environmental impact as a result of the current crisis, impacts on areas such as forests, wildlife and water quality cannot be ruled out if the situation persists and significant numbers of people remain displaced over the medium to long term,” he said. Mr. Nuttall warned that this damage “would in the end exacerbate the loss of livelihoods and the humanitarian situation.”

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