TORONTO – The Toronto stock market closed higher Monday amid rising energy and financial stocks but was weighed down by a slide of more than nine per cent in Research In Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM) shares.
The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 124.61 points to 12,521.7 while the TSX Venture Exchange rose 17.58 points to 1,588.91.
Investors were unimpressed with news that the co-CEOs of Research In Motion Ltd. are stepping down and being replaced by another senior executive from within the company’s management. RIM (NASDAQ:RIMM) announced late Sunday that Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis would be replaced by RIM chief operating officer, Thorsten Heins.
Its stock had run up almost five per cent in pre-market trading in New York on hopes the move signalled an improvement in the fortunes of the BlackBerry maker. But its shares were down $1.57 to $15.67 on the TSX — down sharply from its 52-week high of $69.30 — after Heins failed to make any major announcements on RIM’s direction during a Monday conference call with analysts.
“They don’t seem to be ready to make any major changes, they just wanted to stay the course and keep building the business as they’ve been going,” said Colin Cieszynski, market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.
“I suspect the street was expecting something like putting the company up for sale or getting into a partnership deal or patent portfolio sales.”
The Waterloo, Ont-based company has seen its fortunes plunge over the last few years as it lost market share to Apple iPhones and iPads and phones using Google’s Android. RIM also suffered though a global four-day service outage.
The Canadian dollar was up 0.57 of a cent to 99.27 cents US.
U.S. markets were lower following strong gains last week while investors looked to talks between Greece and its private creditors that would further ease Europe’s debt crisis.
The Dow industrials was down 11.66 points to 12,708.82. The Nasdaq slipped 2.53 points to 2,784.17 and the S&P 500 futures added 0.62 of a point to 1,316.
Greece’s private creditors are being asked to accept longer maturities and lower interest rates on new bonds swapped for their existing ones.
Greece wants interest rates as low as three per cent on the new bonds. But the private creditors believe that’s too low and are aiming for about 4.5 per cent.
Both sides say a deal is nevertheless very close. An agreement is necessary if Greece is to get the next batch of bailout cash that would prevent a devastating debt default.
Meanwhile, Dutch finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said Greece’s private creditors may be forced to take losses if they can’t reach a deal to cut the country’s massive debt pile voluntarily. He is the first finance minister of the 17 countries that use the euro as their currency who has openly raised the prospect of forcing losses on banks and other investments firms.
Markets in Toronto and New York advanced more than two per cent last week amid signs that the U.S. economy is improving and that China’s economy doesn’t seem to be in danger of a hard landing as authorities try to ease strong growth in order to keep a lid on high inflation.
On Monday, the TSX energy sector gained two per cent while oil prices ran up after the European Union formally adopted an oil embargo Monday against Iran and a freeze of the assets of Iran’s central bank. The package is part of sanctions meant to pressure the country to resume talks on its nuclear program.
Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if the U.S. and other countries impose more sanctions on it because of its nuclear program, and two Iranian lawmakers stepped up threats to block the waterway following the EU move.
The March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $1.25 to US$99.58 a barrel. Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) gained 50 cents to C$36.58 while Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) rose $1.23 to $40.21.
Hopes for a Greek debt deal helped push the financials sector ahead 1.4 per cent as Royal Bank (TSX:RY) rose 97 cents to $54.82 and TD Bank (TSX:TD) improved by $1.02 to $80.17.
The base metals sector climbed 0.14 per cent as copper moved ahead five cents to US$3.80 a pound. Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) fell $1.03 to $18.30 and First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) rose 49 cents to $23.04 .
The gold sector was up 0.87 per cent as February bullion in New York climbed $14.30 to US$1,678.30 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) climbed 76 cents to C$47.28.
In other corporate news, Ottawa-based Wi-LAN Inc. (TSX:WIN) has launched a patent suit against Research In Motion Ltd. The suit filed in a U.S. district court in Florida claims that the BlackBerry maker is infringing on two patents belonging to Wi-LAN. Wi-LAN shares added 24 cents to $5.58.
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (TSX:CP) shares slipped 10 cents to $71.46 as the railroad signed a 10-year agreement with Canpotex Ltd., a company jointly owned by three of North America’s largest potash producers set up to export Canadian potash. Financial terms were not disclosed.