Toronto stock market makes slight gain as Spain creates uncertainty over bailout

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market finished slightly higher on Tuesday as weak commodity prices and further uncertainty about a Spanish bailout defined an erratic trading session.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 21.04 points to 12,391.23, after dipping in and out of negative territory throughout the day. The TSX Venture Exchange lost 6.92 points to 1,331.78.

The Canadian dollar fell 0.16 of a cent to 101.60 cents US.

Reports that a potential bailout request from Spain could happen soon attracted traders’ attention, though the country’s prime minister downplayed expectations that he will make a request for a bailout loan.

“Investors are still not convinced that they are doing enough to lead themselves out of the forest,” said Jim Muir, director of Fraser Mackenzie in Toronto.

As well, Greece’s government is in talks with its debt inspectors over its latest austerity measures. If the inspectors refuse to sign off on the measures, Greece faces the prospect of not getting its next batch of bailout funds, a development that may lead to its exit from the euro.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials dropped 32.75 points to 13,482.36. The Nasdaq composite index lifted 6.51 points to 3,120.04 and the S&P 500 index was up 1.26 points at 1,445.75.

The TSX indexes were divided in their direction, with information technology stocks leading the upside with a gain of 0.7 per cent. Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) shares rose six per cent, or 46 cents, to $8.15.

Gold stocks were trading to the downside as bullion prices backed off a seven-month high. December bullion pulled back $7.70 to close at US$1,775.60 an ounce.

The December contract for copper rose 1.6 cents to US$3.80 a pound. Copper is viewed as an economic barometer because it is used in so many industries.

Energy stocks gained 0.08 per cent while November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved down 59 cents to US$91.89 a barrel.

The market has been in a holding pattern ahead of the latest U.S. jobs report, due on Friday, which will give a better idea of where the economy is headed.

In the meantime, Mosaic, the largest fertilizer company in the United States, said weak demand from China and India weighed on its profits. The comments sent its stock, as well as Dupont and other materials companies, lower.

And Core Logic, a private provider of real estate data, said U.S. home prices in August rose 4.6 per cent compared with the same month last year. Prices also rose 0.3 per cent from July, the sixth consecutive month of gains.

In corporate developments, CML HealthCare Inc. (TSX:CLC) said it is selling its diagnostic imaging business in Alberta to Canada Diagnostic Centres for $17 million. Shares of CML were up a penny to $8.83.

Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) said a deal to buy the remaining assets of Oilsands Quest for $10 million has been approved by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. Oilsands Quest, which has been operating under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, has been selling off its assets over the last year. After the announcement Cenovus shares closed up 69 cents, or two per cent, to $35.25.