TSX advances amid rising commodities, N.Y. trading to resume Wednesday

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market racked up a solid gain, led by advances in mining stocks amid rising oil and copper prices.

But volumes were much lower than average in a relatively subdued session due to the closure of New York financial markets for a second day because of superstorm Sandy.

The S&P/TSX composite index moved 64.3 points higher to 12,377.05 on volume of 169.5 shares traded worth $2.25 billion. That is well below the daily average so far this year of 337.2 million shares worth nearly $5 billion. The TSX Venture Exchange gained 11.49 points to 1,302.92.

But things will start to return to some level of normalcy on markets Wednesday when the American exchanges resume trading.

“Trading will commence on the New York Stock Exchange at 9:30 a.m. EDT under normal opening procedures, and the NYSE Euronext building and trading floor are fully operational,” said a statement by exchange operator NYSE Euronext.

The Nasdaq will also be open Wednesday after the superstorm left a large swath of New York City without power and subways and vehicle tunnels have been flooded.

In the meantime, Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, said traders around the world were taking a wait-and-see stance due to the closing of the U.S. markets — which normally account for a huge portion of the volume.

“Speculating in these very thin markets probably isn’t the smartest move at this point and I think you will get a lot of investors today that will just wait for a bit more liquidity tomorrow,” Fehr said.

The Canadian dollar was well off session highs, but still up 0.05 of a cent to 99.97 cents US after closing below parity with the U.S. currency Monday for the first time since early August.

Analysts said it was particularly important for American trading to resume Wednesday, even for a shortened session, because of timing issues.

“Having some opening will be critical in that it will allow for month-end pricing, which will have an effect for everything from options pricing to statements to clients,” Fehr said.

“You’re talking about having month-end pricing, month-end settlements for mutual funds and the underlying securities, not to mention equities and bonds in portfolios around the world, all the way from institutional investors to retail investors.”

Bond markets in the U.S. were also closed for a second session.

The CME Group also cancelled floor trading in New York and Chicago but commodity trading carried on electronically. CME will also be back to regular operations Wednesday.

All TSX sectors were positive save for the utilities group with the consumer discretionary segment the biggest advancer with Canadian Tire Corp. (TSX:CTC.A) ahead 88 cents to $71.59.

The gold sector was ahead about 0.76 per cent as December bullion rose $3.40 to US$1.712.10 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) ran ahead 65 cents to C$45.30.

The base metals component was up 0.75 per cent while metal prices advanced with December copper ahead one cent to US$3.51 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) gained 42 cents to C$31.20.

The energy sector ahead 0.36 per cent as December crude gained 14 cents to US$85.68 a barrel. At the same time, there were questions about where crude prices are headed given the effect on refineries from the storm. The biggest operations in the northeastern U.S. have shut down or cut back sharply, while the dampening effect of the storm on transportation and the operation of many businesses will sharply reduce demand.

Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. (TSX:COS) posted net income of $338 million or 70 cents a share, beating estimates by 15 cents. The company, which owns a 37 per cent stake in the Syncrude Canada oilsands mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta., increased its 2012 cash flow guidance by 20 per cent. Its shares gained 60 cents to $21.20.

In other earnings news, Talisman Energy Inc. (TSX:TLM) shares fell 55 cents to $11.50 as the international oil and gas producer reported a net loss of $731 million, largely as a result of asset writedowns in various parts of the world, including its shale operations in Quebec and its offshore operations in Norway.

TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) said its third-quarter profit was $369 million or 52 cents per share, down from $386 million or 55 cents per share in the same year-earlier period. Another measure of profitability, called comparable earnings, dropped more dramatically to $349 million or 50 cents per share from $416 million or 59 cents per share. That missed analyst estimates by two cents per share and the pipeline operator’s shares were four cents higher at $44.94.

And in the U.S., Ford’s third-quarter profit eased one per cent to US$1.63 billion or 41 cents a share as European losses swamped record North American profits. Before special items, it earned 40 cents, beating Wall Street’s forecast of 30 cents. Ford’s revenue fell three per cent to $32.1 billion as vehicle sales dropped in Europe and South America.

Dozens of U.S. companies have also postponed their quarterly earnings reports.

And now some Canadian companies that also trade on the NYSE are announcing delays.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (NYSE:VRX) (TSX:VRX) had been set to release quarterly results Wednesday. The Montreal-based company said Tuesday it will now release earnings Nov. 2 “due to the severe weather conditions and power outages associated with Hurricane Sandy”.

Resolute Forest Products (NYSE:RFP) (TSX:RFP) had been set to release results Tuesday morning but announced Monday night that it has postponed the release until Friday.