Toronto stock market takes small gain as RIM stock moves higher, dollar up

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market eked out a mild gain Friday as shares of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion rose ahead of its planned new smartphone launch.

The S&P/TSX composite index moved up 2.44 points to 12,602.18 while the TSX Venture Exchange inched ahead 0.17 of a point to 1,240.25.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.01 of a cent to 101.58 cents US after Statistics Canada reported that the country’s trade deficit with the world jumped to $2 billion in November.

Meanwhile, information technology stocks provided major lift in the market, up 3.8 per cent, as RIM shares led the sector. The company’s stock (TSX:RIM) rose 13 per cent to $13.31 on very heavy volume of more than 12.4 million shares.

RIM shares have been on a volatile ride in recent months as investors await the launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system and devices on Jan. 30.

On Friday, promotional materials for the new BlackBerrys leaked onto some technology blogs, a day after thre top three U.S. cellphone carriers each announced they would support the new devices.

But an analyst at BMO Capital Markets lowered his price target for RIM stock to US$9 from $12 on Thursday, based on revised earnings estimates for the coming year and 2014 following a visit to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Financial stocks fell 0.08 per cent as weakness in the U.S. sector spread to the Canadian market.

Wells Fargo, the biggest mortgage lender in the U.S., earned a record $4.9 billion in the fourth quarter, up 25 per cent from the same period a year before. But investors worried that the results showed signs that its giant mortgage business was losing momentum.

Great-West Lifeco (TSX:GWO) shares lost 13 cents to $24.67.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrials gained 17.21 points to 13,488.43 while the Nasdaq was 3.87 points higher at 3,125.63.

The S&P 500 index gave back 0.07 of a point to 1,472.05, pulling away from the five-year high it reached on Thursday.

The Commerce Department said that the U.S. trade gap widened 15.8 per cent in November to its widest point in seven months. The deficit was grew to $48.7 billion.

In commodities, oil prices fell after China’s inflation rose to levels that could affect the country’s growth. February crude was down 26 cents to US$93.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

European countries are also facing their own uphill battle to restore economic growth. The economies of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro are in recession and unemployment is soaring across the region.

Gold prices backtracked with the February contract down $17.40 to US$1,660.60 an ounce.

PetroBakken Energy Ltd. (TSX:PBN) said it has budgeted $675 million for capital projects this year, with a focus on growing production from the Cardium formation in Alberta. Shares of the company were down 20 cents to $10.09.

Shares of Boeing fell after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was launching a comprehensive review of the critical systems of Boeing’s 787 after a fire and a fuel leak earlier this week.