TORONTO – The Toronto stock market closed higher Friday amid hopes for a strong U.S. holiday retail season and positive economic news from Europe’s biggest economy.
The S&P/TSX composite index was up 60.14 points to 12,213.24 while the TSX Venture Exchange rose 10.61 points to 1,258.97.
Shares in Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) (Nasdaq:RIMM) were down 39 cents or 3.25 per cent to $11.61 on heavy volume of 9.2 million shares. RIM stock had spiked 17 per cent Thursday after National Bank Financial analyst Kris Thompson increased his price target for the BlackBerry maker to US$15 from US$12.
On the Nasdaq, which was closed Thursday for U.S. Thanksgiving, the shares surged 13.65 per cent to US$11.66.
The Canadian dollar was up 0.53 of a cent to 100.81 cents US amid rising commodities and tame inflation data. Statistics Canada reported that the consumer price index was up 1.2 per cent year over year, slightly higher than an expected reading of 1.1 per cent but still at the low end of the Bank of Canada’s range.
U.S. indexes surged as traders returned to work for a shortened session on hopes for solid results from “Black Friday,” the unofficial start to the holiday retail season.
The Dow Jones industrials jumped 172.79 points to 13,009.68, the Nasdaq composite index was 40.3 points higher at 2,966.85 and the S&P 500 index edged up 18.12 points to 1,409.15.
“Black Friday is always a big shopping day and expectations are pretty high,” said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer of Sun Life Global Investment.
The day after Thanksgiving is dubbed “Black Friday” because it reputed to be when U.S. retailers turn their first profit of the year as millions of Americans rush out to stores in search of gifts for Christmas and other seasonal holidays.
Adatia was a bit surprised to see consumer confidence in the U.S. has held up recently despite some near-term challenges.
“We have a big fiscal cliff coming up soon and we still have many issues in the eurozone,” he said.
“But that being said, there are a lot of reasons in the U.S. why people should feel more confident. Yeah, there’s the fiscal cliff but most people expect that to get resolved, or at least mostly resolved.”
Shoppers had the opportunity to hit the malls right after Thanksgiving dinner as many U.S. retailers opened their doors well before the usual midnight hour. The earlier hours are an effort to make shopping as convenient as possible for consumers. Retailers fear their customers won’t spend freely during the unofficial run-up to the gift-buying season because of economic uncertainty.
The TSX ran up 2.82 per cent this past week while the Dow industrials gained 3.34 per cent.
Traders also took in some positive news from Europe’s biggest economy as German business confidence rose unexpectedly in November after six straight declines.
Munich’s Ifo institute said its key business climate figure rose to 101.4 points in November from 100 in October. Economists had been predicting a modest drop to 99.5.
This was particularly good news as there have been recent signs that Germany’s export-driven economy is beginning to slow amid weakening demand from other countries from within the European Union, though exports outside the bloc have remained strong.
The gold sector was the leading gainer, up about 1.1 per cent as December bullion headed $23.20 higher to US$1,751.40 an ounce. Centerra Gold (TSX:CG) improved by 20 cents to C$9.90 while Agnico-Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM) rose 56 cents to $55.64.
The mining sector was up 0.8 per cent as December copper on the Nymex added three cents to US$3.53 a pound. Sherritt International (TSX:S) advanced 23 cents to C$5.22 and Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX:TRQ) gained 22 cents to $7.34.
The energy sector gained 0.48 per cent as the January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 90 cents to US$88.28 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) was ahead 31 cents to C$27.94 while Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) advanced 43 cents to $11.68.
Financials also lifted the TSX with Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) up 41 cents to $58.95 while CIBC (TSX:CM) climbed 75 cents to $79.80.
Going into the weekend, it is expected that eurozone leaders will finally agree Monday to give Greece its next batch of desperately needed bailout cash.
And next week, the focus will again be on whether U.S. politicians can come to a budget deal that will defuse a series of steep spending cuts and tax hikes due to go into effect at the start of 2013.
The worry is that such an economic shock would likely send the U.S. back into recession, and seriously damage growth prospects for other countries.