Stocks advance as Alcoa boosts optimism

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. read more

Closing Bell TSX lower amid heavy slate of corporate earnings news

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed lower Wednesday amid a slew of earnings news and negative moves in commodity prices.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 12,775.28 -13.74 -0.11%S&P 500 — 1,520.33 +0.90 0.06%Dow — 13,982.91 -35.79 -0.26%Nasdaq — 3,196.88 +10.39 0.33%The S&P/TSX composite index declined 13.74 points to 12,775.28 while the TSX Venture Exchange was up 5.28 points at 1,204.23.The Canadian dollar gained 0.09 of a cent to 99.82 cents US.U.S. indexes were mixed as January retail sales met expectations, with the Dow Jones industrials down 35.79 points to 13,982.91.The Nasdaq was 10.39 points higher at 3,196.88, supported by Amazon.com Inc., which has struck a deal with CBS Corp. to expand the networks’s content made available to Amazon’s Prime video streaming service.Amazon stock ran up 4.16% to US$269.47. The S&P 500 index edged up 0.9 of a point to 1,520.33.U.S. retail sales ticked up 0.1% last month after a 0.5% rise in December. January’s increase was in line with expectations and was the smallest in three months after higher taxes cut into the wages of Americans.“However, given continued job gains through the start of this year, we are assuming that this slowing in sales will prove temporary and that greater strength will emerge going forward,” said RBC assistant chief economist Paul Ferley.Analysts think that trading is taking place amid rising caution as a March 1 deadline looms that would see steep automatic spending cuts take effect to the tune of US$85 billion.“I think there is some reluctance to do much. I think that’s why our market has more or less, the last couple of weeks or so, hasn’t done a darned thing,” said Fred Ketchen, manager of equity trading at Scotia Capital.“It’s teaching everybody to have a little bit more patience than they would like to have.”On Wednesday, Jacob Lew, President Barack Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary, urged Congress to avoid those cuts, warning they would impose “self-inflicted wounds to the recovery and put far too many jobs and businesses at risk.”Talisman Energy Inc. recorded US$367-million or 37 cents per share in quarterly net income, beating forecasts of 16 cents a share. But the gain was mainly due to disposal of some assets and the company continued to feel the effects of low natural gas prices. Talisman posted revenue of $1.6 billion, which was $300 million less than what was expected. Its shares erased early losses and gained 26 cents to $12.82.Thomson Reuters posted US$497-million of adjusted earnings, or 60 cents per share in the latest quarter, compared with US$445-million or 54 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2011. Net income attributable to common shareholders was US$372 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of US$2.6 billion. Thomson’s overall revenue, including discontinued operations, fell to $3.4 million from $3.6 billion, a five% decline. The company’s shares fell 70 cents to $30.02 as the company also forecast slow growth and tightening profit margins in 2013, and announced plans to cut 2,500 jobs.Cheese, dairy and bakery company Saputo Inc. had $130 million or 65 cents per share of net income in the latest quarter, a penny short of analyst estimates. Revenue at $1.8 billion also missed estimates by $100 million and its shares fell $1.12 to $49.70.In the U.S., farm and construction equipment maker Deere & Co. says its first-quarter net income jumped 22% to US$649.7 million or $1.65 per share. Revenue rose almost 10% to $7.42 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting earnings of $1.39 per share on revenue of $6.73 billion and its shares lost $3.29 to $90.68.The information technology sector was the leading decliner, down 3.5% with CGI Group down $1.21 to $27.12 while BlackBerry dropped $1.25 or 8.2% at $14. The stock has lost about 20% since Jan. 24, days before the company unveiled its new BlackBerry 10 product line. However, the stock had rallied almost 200% from its low of $6.10, chalked up late last September.The gold sector fell about 1.65% as April bullion on the Nymex declined $4.50 to US$1,645.90 an ounce, its lowest close since last August. Eldorado Gold shed 35 cents to C$10.68.Consumer and telecom stocks also pressured the TSX.The utilities sector led advancers, up 0.39% as TransAlta (climbed 16 cents to $16.35.The March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gave up early gains to move down 50 cents to US$97.01 a barrel despite a much less than expected rise in U.S. inventories. The U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said supplies rose by 560,000 barrels.A survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., showed crude stocks were expected to have risen by 2.5 million barrels. However, other data released Tuesday had showed inventories declined last week.The energy sector was ahead 0.3% while Canadian Natural Resources gained 25 cents to C$31.80.March copper backed off from early gains and was unchanged at US$3.74 a pound. Still, the base metals sector was up 0.2% and First Quantum Minerals gained 16 cents to C$20.26.Here’s the news investors were watching today:Smart money says it’s time to buy AppleCan the new BlackBerry topple Apple’s iPhone?BCE ranks high in the 17 best stocks for big fat dividendsPrecious metals ruled the fund worldON DECK THURSDAYG20 finance ministers and central bankers meet in Moscow ECONOMIC NEWSBank of Japan announces interest rate decision UNITED STATES8:30 a.m.Weekly jobless claims: Economists expect CORPORATE NEWSCANADABarrick Gold Q4 earnings: Analysts expect $1.06 Goldcorp Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 46¢ CI Financial Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 35¢ Encana Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 31¢ Precision Drilling Q4 earnings: Analysts expect $1.15 Cenovus Energy Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 54¢ Canfor Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 14¢ UNITED STATESPepsiCo Q4 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.05 a share CBS Corp Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 71¢ Molson Coors Brewing Co Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 64¢ Campbell Soup Co Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 66¢ The J.M. Smucker Co Q3 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.39 Apache Corp Q4 earnings: Analysts expect US$2.30 read more

Financials pull TSX lower after CIBC profit plunge

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market was lower Thursday afternoon amid a poorly received earnings report from CIBC (TSX:CM), while data showed the U.S. economy performing worse than expected earlier this year.The S&P/TSX composite index lost 54.03 points to 14,556.93.CIBC said that poor results in its Caribbean operations were responsible for net income dropping to $306 million from $862 million a year ago. CIBC’s adjusted net income came in at $2.17 per share, beating analysts’ expectations of $2.07 per share and the bank also raised its quarterly dividend by two cents to $1 per common share. However, its shares dropped $1.59 to $97.45.Financials led TSX decliners with all of the major banks, save Scotiabank, giving back some of the gains racked up over the last week as most of the banks delivered strong results.“You’ve seen banks outperform as a group, about 3% over the last week or so — not surprising we’re having a bit of a profit-taking on them,” said Stephen Lingard, managing director of Franklin Templeton Solutions.“There is a slowing momentum in mortgage products and they’re having to be pretty competitive with each other. But they have had other segments that have offset this, notably wealth (management) and business loans so all in all a good quarter.”The Canadian dollar was up 0.27 of a cent to 92.22  cents US.U.S. indexes were higher as the first revision to first-quarter gross domestic product showed that GDP actually shrank at an annualized rate of 1% in the period, largely because of severe winter weather. That was much higher than the 0.5% drop that economists had expected, but they anticipate the weakness to be short-lived.The Dow Jones industrials rose 10.44 points to 16,643.62, the Nasdaq climbed 12.05 points to 4,237.13 and the S&P 500 index was ahead 4.51 points at 1,914.29.In other corporate developments, Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS) is selling more than two-thirds of its interest in CI Financial Inc. (TSX:CIX) in a deal worth at least $2.27 billion, making it one of the largest public offerings in Canada. Scotiabank will sell 72 million common shares of CI at $31.50 per share, reducing its current 37% interest to about 11.4%. CI shares climbed 45 cents to $34.10 and Scotiabank added 13 cents to $68.95.The debut of shares in Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) subsidiary PrairieSky was a huge success Thursday. The energy giant earlier in the morning announced the completion of the initial public offering of 52 million common shares of PrairieSky (TSX:PSK) at an offering price of $28 and by mid-morning, the shares were trading at $36.51 on the TSX. Encana is spinning off some of its Alberta land holdings through PrairieSky.Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is expected to be elected as board chairman of  media giant Quebecor Inc. (TSX:QBR:B) next month. Pierre Karl Peladeau stepped down as board vice-chairman of Quebecor in March and chairman of subsidiary Quebecor Media when he announced plans to run for the Parti Quebecois in the April election. The move could signal an attempt by Quebecor to put some distance between itself and Peladeau. Quebecor shares slipped 17 cents to $26.58.Elsewhere on the TSX, the base metals sector dropped 0.9% as July copper slipped three cents to US$3.14 a pound. The energy sector was down 0.07% even as July crude gained 91 cents to US$103.62 a barrel. The gold sector was the leading advancer, up 1.15% as August bullion lost $2.60 to US$1,257.10 an ounce. read more

Another foreign oil company decides to abandon its oilsands project

CALGARY — Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., has decided against restarting an oilsands pilot project that was shut last year during the wildfires near Fort McMurray, Alta.Also known as Japex, the company says it has decided to abandon the project due to low oil prices and technical risks of restarting the steam-injection wells to allow the heavy, sticky oil to flow.The pilot project had been in operation through a subsidiary called Japan Canada Oil Sands Ltd. since 1999 and produced a cumulative total of 35 million barrels of bitumen.Meanwhile, Japan Canada Oil Sands has been steaming a commercial oilsands project in the same area since April and reports that it has achieved first oil production.The company, which owns 75 per cent of both projects, says its Hangingstone commercial project is producing about 1,000 barrels per day and will gradually ramp up to capacity of 20,000 bpd by the second half of 2018.The projects are 25 per cent owned by Nexen Energy, a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corp. or CNOOC.The Canadian Press read more

Maldives opposition confident of fair polls

The Maldives opposition expressed confidence of a free and fair poll as voting got underway on Saturday in bi-elections in the politically troubled nation.International affairs spokesman for the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Xinhua that his party led by former President Mohamed Nasheed hopes the peaceful conditions will pave the way for an early presidential election. The Elections Commission on Friday said it had received 21 complaints in relation to the parliamentary bi-elections for the Kaafu Atoll Kaashidhoo and Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi constituencies and the Kumundhoo council bi-election.The Maldives with nearly 1,200 scattered atolls is undergoing political turmoil since former vice president Mohammed Waheed took over the office as president following a controversial power transfer. “Polling is going peacefully and we have confidence with the elections commission that the elections will be free and fair. We are thankful to everyone to help make this peaceful. This shows the conditions to hold peaceful elections exist and thus there is no reason hold back on an early presidential election,”said Ghafoor. Voting in the bi-elections for the Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi constituencies and the Thaa Atoll Gaadhiffushi and Haa dhaal Atoll Kumundhoo island councils began early Saturday and will continue till evening. Former President Nasheed claimed he was ousted by a military- backed coup and is demanding an early presidential election.In a statement last month the European Union noted that agreement on the holding of early elections, on the independent investigation of the transfer of power in February and the reestablishment of the correction functioning of government and parliament is now more important than ever.The United States has also supported an early presidential election and has come forward to assist the holding of a free and fair poll. (Xinhua) read more

Sri Lankas first fully fledged modern high voltage lab opened

A fully fledged modern high voltage laboratory was a long felt need for the university education and the electrical engineering industry of Sri Lanka.  The laboratory has been named after Prof Rohan Lucas as a gratitude for the dedicated long service over 45 years for High Voltage Engineering Education of the university and the country. The laboratory consist of a High voltage Impulse Generator, High Voltage AC Test System, High Voltage DC Test System, Artificial Rain Making Equipment and associated control equipment and auxiliary devices. The laboratory is capable of High Voltage Impulse Tests, High Voltage AC and DC tests up to 500kV and 300kV respectively at different environmental conditions. Sri Lanka’s first fully fledged modern high voltage lab was declared open at the University of Moratuwa today.The modern High Voltage Laboratory and Testing Facility was ceremonially opened under the patronage of the Chancellor of the University of Moratuwa, Prof. K K Y W Perera as the Chief Guest, Chief Executive Officer of LTL Holdings (Pvt) Limited, Eng U D Jayawardana as the Guest of Honour, Vice Chancellor and Prof. Ananda Jayawardna, Dean of the Engineering Faculty. LTL Holdings (Pvt) Limited has joined hands with the university as the industrial sponsor in construction of the laboratory. This is as another CSR project by LTL to up held the university education in Sri Lanka. Cost of laboratory was Rs 35 million appx out of which laboratory renovation and civil construction works around Rs 5 million was sponsored by LTL Holdings (Pvt) Limited.The lab facility will be of immense support to Undergraduate and Post Graduate Engineering students for their laboratory experiments, design and research projects and for the High Voltage Research Group of the University lead by Prof Rojan Lucas and Dr Rasara Samarasinghe. Further the testing facility is capable of carrying out HV Transformer Testing, HV Cable Testing, Meter Testing, HV Insulator and Bushing Testing, HV Switchgear Testing, HV CT/PT/ and CVT Testing which has been a long standing vacuum in the industry.This is the only test facility in Sri Lanka of this caliber with equipment including an impulse generator test set, HVAC test set and HVDC test set that are capable of carrying out most of the testing required by the power industry in the country. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Maldives dismisses UN views insists former President a fugitive

“The Government accepts the conviction of Nasheed as lawful and final. The conviction has reached finality after the decision of the Supreme Court on 27 June 2016. The Government notes with concern that although a detailed submission was filed in response to the complaints, very little, if any, consideration has been given to those submissions,” the Maldives Foreign Ministry said. The Maldives Government has rejected the views adopted by the UN Human Rights Committee regarding the complaints filed by former President Mohamed Nasheed alleging the violation of his civil and political rights.The Maldives Foreign Ministry said that the Government of the Maldives is committed to promoting and protecting the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Maldives and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as per it’s international obligations, and it wholeheartedly refutes that any of these rights have been violated in the case of the former President Nasheed. “The Government also maintains that the former President Nasheed’s political standing had no bearing, whatsoever, on the charges against him and his subsequent conviction, and reaffirms that the process was free of any and all political influence. As Nasheed has been convicted lawfully, the restrictions on his political participation and association are justified and reasonable under the laws and regulations of the Maldives as well as the rulings of the courts of the Maldives,” the Maldives Government said.The Government notes that Article 109 of the Constitution of the Maldives details the qualifications a person elected as President must hold, and as such, Article 109 (f) states that such a person shall not have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months, unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release, or pardon for the offence for which he was sentenced. The UN Human Rights Committee had concluded in a finding made public that the Maldives must restore ex-President Mohamed Nasheed’s right to stand for office, including the office of President. The finding of violations of human rights was made in response to two individual complaints by Nasheed filed in 2013 and 2016. The Maldives Government said that since Former President Nasheed was convicted on 13 March 2015 and sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment, he would not be eligible to run for the Office of the President unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release or pardon.The Government also notes that the Former President was granted permission to travel abroad to seek medical treatment and that following expiry of the medical leave, he has not returned to serve his sentence and therefore remains a fugitive. read more

Mahasohon Balakaya leader several others further remanded

While being brought out of the court premises the suspects said that they do not have money to pay for bail.The families of the suspects who gathered outside court appealed for their release, insisting that they were innocent. The suspects were placed in remand following the violence in Kandy targeting Muslims. (Colombo Gazette) The leader of the Mahasohon Balakaya, Amith Weerasinghe and several others were today ordered to be further remanded over the violence in Digana, Kandy.The Theldeniya Magistrate’s Court ordered 32 suspects including Amith Weerasinghe to be further until May 5th when they were presented before court today. read more

China offers more facilities to draw Sri Lankan tourists

According to statistics available at the Chinese Tourism Academy, over 60,000 Sri Lankans visited China in 2016. Emily Liu, General Manager of Air China, Colombo Office, addressing the forum said that since Air China entered the Sri Lankan market three years ago, traffic between Colombo and Chinese cities had increased due to the airline’s promotions and services.However she said many parts of China still remained unexplored for Sri Lankan tourists and they hoped to increase the numbers.“We hope to introduce Sri Lankan travel agents to other destinations other than Beijing and Shanghai so that they can promote it among Sri Lankan tourists. In a forum conducted for Sri Lanka’s leading travel agents, organized jointly by China’s national air carrier Air China and the Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka, Air China said it hoped to provide better services for its travelers between Colombo and Chinese cities in order to increase the number of Sri Lankan tourists.Some of these facilities include enhanced leg space in all its air buses, more localized Sri Lankan meals and luxurious facilities for its business class travelers. China is offering more facilities to draw Sri Lankan tourists, China’s state owned Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.Chief of Consular Department of Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka, Wang Keqi briefed local travel agents on the different visa procedures in order to facilitate more tourists to visit China. A forum was held in Colombo on Saturday to introduce to Sri Lankan travelers tourism services and attractive destinations in China. China is today one of the largest economies in the world, which has a rich heritage and a history dating back to many centuries. With its modernized culture in recent years, it has a lot to offer for Sri Lankan tourists and traders,” Liu said. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Two killed two others injured in Pottuvil accident

Two people were killed and two others sustained injuries following an accident in Pottuvil, the Police said.The Police said that a car had crashed into four people of the same family along the Pottuvil-Akkaraipattu road. A 34 year old woman and her six year old daughter were killed in the incident.The Police said that a 12 year old girl and a 11 year old boy were injured in the accident and admitted to hospital for treatment.