TSX closes slightly higher, DHX Media soars 24% on specialty TV deal with Bell

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market closed with a small gain Thursday amid a relatively quiet session with American markets shuttered for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 8.77 points to 13,370.83, off the highs of the session as the financial sector moved into negative territory.

“U.S. capital markets often set the tone around the world,” observed Chris King, portfolio manager at Morgan, Meighen and Associates.

“I do expect the next couple of days to be fairly quiet.”

A major gainer was Halifax-based DHX Media Ltd. (TSX:DHX). Its stock soared $1.02 or 24.46 per cent to $5.19 after it said it would pay about $170 million in cash to buy several children’s specialty TV channels, including Family, under a proposed deal with Bell Media (TSX:BCE). BCE rose 15 cents to $46.82.

The loonie was up 0.08 of a cent to 94.46 cents US even as data showed that Canada’s broadest measure of trade continued to run at a deficit in the third quarter.

Statistics Canada reported that the current account deficit decreased $500 million to $15.5 billion in the third quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis. That was about $1 billion more than economists expected.

New York markets reopen Friday for a shortened session and traders will be anxious to see if Americans came out in force on Thursday night to kick off the start of the holiday shopping season.

King said it’s fascinating to watch people “try to divine” how the rest of the season will turn out, based on first few hours of Black Friday shopping.

Black Friday refers to the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, which is on the last Thursday of November each year and about a month before Christmas. According to lore, it’s the first day that retailers can expect to go into the black for the year due to holiday-related sales.

“I don’t know about the correlation between Black Friday and the rest of the season but it probably is pretty significant,” King said.

The metals and mining component led TSX advancers, up 2.23 per cent while March copper was up one cent at US$3.20 a pound in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange late Thursday afternoon. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) climbed 65 cents to C$17.93 while Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) was ahead 71 cents to $25.95.

The gold sector rose 0.5 per cent as December bullion climbed $6.50 to US$1,244.40. Iamgold (TSX:IMG) improved by 12 cents to C$4.53.

The consumer staples sector was also supportive as shares in convenience store chain Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B) ran ahead $1.17 to $77.96 after earlier hitting a new 52-week high of $79.18.

The bidding battle for Australia’s Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. continued Thursday. Murray Goulburn, Australia’s largest dairy exporter, has increased its offer for Warrnambool to AU$9.50 a share in cash, which would value Warrnambool at AU$532 million. MG’s chief rival is Canada’s Saputo Inc. (TSX:SAP), which announced Monday that it would pay AU$9.20 per share if receives more than half of Warrnambool’s shares or AU$9 per share if it doesn’t get a majority. Saputo shares were up 28 cents to C$48.56.

Energy stocks were also off the best levels of the day with the sector weakening by 0.07 per cent as the January crude contract fell five cents to a six-month low of US$92.25. Oil racked up a steep loss of $1.38 on Wednesday as U.S. oil inventories unexpectedly rose last week instead of declining.

The Energy Department reported that the U.S. supply of crude oil is now 391.4 million barrels, which is 4.6 per cent above year-ago levels and “well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.”