Toronto stock market poised for higher open as commodity prices rise

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market was poised for a higher open as gold and oil prices moved higher and in advance of U.S. housing data that most economists expect will paint an improving picture.

New York futures markets were positive ahead of the open. The Dow futures were up one point to 13,220, the Nasdaq futures rose 3.5 points to 2,696.50 and the S&P futures inched ahead 0.4 points to 1,433.5.

The U.S. National Association of Realtors releases its monthly report on previously occupied homes. Economists predict it will show that sales are hitting levels not seen in more than 2 1/2 years.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.11 of a cent to 101.09 cents US.

After a week of taking baby steps toward a compromise, President Barack Obama threatened Wednesday to veto a new plan floated by the speaker of the Republican-controlled Congress, John Boehner — sparking an early sell-off on global markets.

The markets later recovered their poise, however, as some investors viewed the latest spat mostly as posturing.

By midday in Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1 per cent to 5,967.69 while Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 per cent to 7,658.15. France’s CAC-40 was fractionally higher at 3,664.69.

Stocks in Asia were also mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 1.2 per cent to close at 10,039.33, following a strong rally the day before. The Bank of Japan, as expected, announced at the end of a policy meeting that it was expanding its asset-purchase program by about 10 trillion yen ($119 billion) to shore up its flagging economy.

Commodity prices were mixed with the February oil contract up 14 cents to US$90.12 and February gold futures up $1.80 to US$1,669.50 per ounce. Copper prices shed four cents to US$3.56 per pound.

Meanwhile, trading halts are place for NYSE Euronext, operator of the New York Stock Exchange, and IntercontinentalExchange Inc. ahead of a major takeover deal.

IntercontinentalExchange (NYSE:ICE) is offering US$33.12 in cash and stock to buy NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NXY) That”s about 38 per cent above the NYSE stock price ahead of the trading halt.

The deal was announced before markets opened Thursday.

And in Canadian corporate news, Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) has a firm deal to sell at least 10 of its new CSeries passenger jets to AirBaltic, which has an option to buy an additional 10 planes. The Latvian airline’s firm order has a list value of US$764 million. The deal could be worth up to US$1.57 billion if AirBaltic fully exercises options to buy an additional 10 Bombardier CS300s.

It’s the second major order for the new-generation CSeries planes announced this week by the Montreal-based aerospace company. Bombardier said Thursday that an unidentified airline based in the Americas wants to buy 12 to 30 CSeries planes, worth up to US$2.08 billion.

After markets close Thursday, traders will get the last peek into RIM’s (TSX:RIM) financials before it releases its much anticipated new line of smartphones in the new year.

Analysts will closely be watching the company’s cash volume and subscriber numbers after the BlackBerry-maker surprised in the last quarter with better-than-expected numbers on both fronts.

RIM has already said it expects to report an operating loss in its most recent third quarter. Analysts are expecting a quarterly loss of 32 cents per adjusted share on revenue of $2.6 billion.