Toronto markets inch higher as Research In Motion stock gains traction

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market ended relatively flat Monday as the information technology sector came out the strongest, helped by shares of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion.

The S&P/TSX composite index crept up 0.91 of a point to 12,603.09 while the TSX Venture Exchange slipped 10.72 points to 1,229.53.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.07 of a cent to 101.65 cents US as a new survey by the Bank of Canada showed that Canadian business executives are feeling more confident about 2013.

The central bank’s latest quarterly business outlook survey shows firms on balance think sales and employment will pick up after a tough 2012.

The TSX information technology sector rose 2.5 per cent, with BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) jumping 10.4 per cent.

The company’s shares were up $1.39 to $14.70 ahead of the unveiling of its BlackBerry 10 devices later this month, as reports emerged that one of its biggest competitors may be feeling some strain in its sales.

Apple Inc. stock was off 3.6 per cent on reports that the company has reduced orders for parts for the iPhone 5 after sales fell short of expectations in the current quarter. Its shares declined US$18.55 to $501.75.

RIM was one of the most active stocks on the market, climbing to the highest level since early April 2012.

“A lot of people were worried that this company wouldn’t even make it to the launch, but now the launch is just days away, and so I think there is definitely a positive buzz around the name,” said Allan Small, senior adviser at DWM Securities.

“There’s a very large short position with the name, and when something comes up that’s positive and the stock market moves, it’s because a lot of these investors, I think, are covering their short positions.”

Key commodities rose to their highest levels in several months. The February crude contract lifted 58 cents to $94.14 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, bringing oil to near a four-month high.

Gold prices ended the session at a three-month high, up $8.80 for the February contract at US$1,669.40 an ounce. March copper dipped two cents to $3.63 a pound.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials was up 18.89 points at 13,507.32, the Nasdaq declined 8.13 points to 3,117.50 and the S&P 500 index subtracted 1.37 points to 1,470.68.

The TSX mining and metals sector dropped half a per cent despite a batch of deals.

Switzerland’s Swatch Group has reached an agreement to buy Harry Winston Diamond’s (TSX:HW) retail jewelry and watch division for US$1 billion in cash and assumed debt. The Toronto-based company says the deal will position it to pursue mining opportunities as Dominion Diamond Corp. Its shares were up 4.4 per cent, or 63 cents, to $14.90.

Alamos Gold Inc. (TSX:AGI) is making a takeover bid for Aurizon Mines Ltd. (TSX:ARZ) that values the Vancouver-based company at $780 million, or $4.65 per Aurizon share in cash and stock. Aurizon’s board has yet to make a public comment on the proposal.

Aurizon shares closed up $1.14, or 33.43 per cent, at $4.55 on heavy volume of 15,883,540 shares, while Alamos stock was down $2.02, or 11.94 per cent, at $14.90.

Uranium One Inc. (TSX:UUU) is supporting a $1.3-billion offer from a Russian company known as ARMZ, which wants to take the Canadian company private. ARMZ already owns 51.4 per cent of Uranium One’s stock. Its shares rose 14.5 per cent, or 35 cents, to $2.76.

Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. (TSX:XSR) has reached an agreement with Chrysler Canada under which the auto company will install SiriusXM commercial-free satellite radios into an unspecified number of vehicles over the next five years. CSR shares were up 19 cents to $6.19.

Dell’s stock soared 12 per cent on a report that the struggling personal computer maker is in talks to take the company private. Bloomberg News says Dell has discussed a potential sale with at least two firms that specialize in buying companies whose stocks have fallen out of favour. It shares rose US$1.41 to $12.29.