Toronto stock market little changed amid positive economic data, dealmaking

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TORONTO – The Toronto stock market closed little changed Monday amid positive economic news from China and the U.S., along with major dealmaking in the industrial and mining sectors.

The S&P/TSX composite index was off 3.34 points to 15,105.63.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.22 of a cent to 93.23 cents US on top of a gain of almost two-thirds of a cent on Friday to a five-month high. The currency rose sharply as higher than expected inflation data on Friday raised questions about whether the Bank of Canada might move interest rates higher sooner than thought.

U.S. indexes were tepid amid strong U.S. home sales and manufacturing figures.

The Dow Jones industrials declined 9.82 points to 16,937.26 and the Nasdaq added 0.64 of a point to 4,368.68.

The S&P 500 index slipped 0.26 of a point to 1,962.61 as the Markit Economics flash manufacturing purchasing managers index for the U.S. edged higher in June, rising to 57.5 from 56.4 in May. The index is at its highest level since May 2010.

Also, sales of U.S. existing homes jumped 4.9 per cent in May in the best monthly gain in nearly three years. Sales increased 4.9 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million homes.

Meanwhile, data released Sunday showed the Chinese manufacturing sector moving into expansion territory. HSBC’s purchasing managers index hit a seven-month high at 50.8, the first time the index has moved above the 50 level since December.

“What you’re seeing in the data is that China has been adding some small but important stimulus to their economy,” said Colum Mckinley, vice-president, Canadian equities, CIBC Global Asset Management.

“And so I think it’s another indication … (around the globe) that we continue to see improvements and potentially an acceleration of economic growth.”

The TSX paused Monday after gaining about 0.7 per cent last week, leaving the main Toronto index up more than 10 per cent year to date.

Consumer discretionary stocks were the leading TSX decliners as Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) lost 69 cents to $26.01.

The gold sector built on last week’s strong run-up of over five per cent. The group rose 1.5 per cent as bullion prices added to gains racked up last week amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia and a growing insurgency in Iraq. August gold rose $1.80 to US$1,318.40 an ounce.

The base metals sector was ahead 0.8 per cent as the Chinese data helped push July copper up three cents to US$3.15 a pound.

The tech sector was also supportive, up 0.6 per cent with BlackBerry (TSX:BB) continuing to benefit from last week’s well received quarterly earnings report, up 34 cents to $10.85.

The energy sector was flat as oil prices declined after rising steadily over the last two weeks as a Sunni uprising gained momentum in Iraq.

“There are some incredibly unfortunate events unfolding across the world and we’re seeing a risk premium be placed on certain commodities and oil is certainly one of them that we’re seeing,” added Mckinley.

The August contract was off 66 cents to US$106.17 a barrel.

On the corporate front, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (TSX:SNC) is acquiring U.K.-based Kentz Corp. Ltd., a global engineering firm that provides services to the oil and gas sector, in a deal worth C$2.1 billion. SNC shares rose 91 cents to $53.31.

HudBay Minerals Inc. (TSX:HBM) is buying Augusta Resource Corporation (TSX:AZC) in a friendly takeover deal worth $555 million. HudBay was down 24 cents to $10.05 while Augusta ran ahead 24 cents to $3.44.

And in the U.S., software maker Oracle is buying Micros Systems Inc., which provides software and hardware to the hospitality and retail industries, for about US$5.3 billion.

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