(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - N.America) Toronto's main market clawed its way into positive territory Friday afternoon, after early reports said that Congressional leaders who met with President Barack Obama today to discuss the fiscal cliff called the talks "constructive."
North American markets have racked up losses since the U.S. election, as traders remained wary over a host of tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect at the start of 2013. Some economists have warned that the fiscal cliff could cause a recession in the U.S. and other countries.
Back in Toronto, as of around 12:45 p.m. EDT on Friday, the S&P/TSX Composite was lately up 47.52 points or 0.40% at 11,858.90, while the more junior S&P/TSX Venture was lately up 7.89 points or 0.65% to 1,230.59.
Commodities were mixed Friday afternoon. Gold for December delivery lately lost 1.60 to 1,712.20 an ounce, while silver was down 41 cents to 32.26 an ounce.
Crude oil for December moved up 1.06 to 86.93 a barrel, as investors keep a close eye on the violence in the Middle East. Israel launched a series of air strikes Wednesday on terrorist targets in Gaza, and Palestinian militants fired a rocket aimed at Jerusalem on Friday.
Meanwhile, the base metal copper contract edged down one cent to 3.46 a pound.
Toronto's main sectors were mixed Friday, with info tech, energy, materials and metals and mining lately in the red.
Gold giants were mixed, with Goldcorp (TSE:G) and Kinross Gold (TSE:K) down 1.23% and 0.32%, respectively, while Barrick Gold (TSE:ABX) edged up 0.08%.
Elsewhere, copper heavyweight Teck Resources (TSE:TCK.B) added 0.16%.
Materials were choppy, with declines in Gold Star Resources " down 4.07% and Banro (TSE:BAA) - down 3.56%, while Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSE:NAK) lost 3.24%.
Gains in the sector were seen in Centerra Gold (TSE:CG), up 8.52%, and Gabriel Resources (TSE:GBU) up 4.36%, after it said the Alba County Council has approved a regional referendum on December 9, in respect of the resumption of mining at the Rosia Montana project. Gabriel's Romanian subsidiary, Rosia Montana Gold Corp. holds the exploitation licence for the project.
In other metals and mining news, Vancouver-based International Enexco (CVE:IEC) (OTCQX:IEXCF) says it has inked an indicative term sheet with uranium miner Denison Mines (TSE:DML) (NYSE:DNN) for a C1.8 million private placement financing, which will see Denison take a stake in the company. Denison will subscribe for 3.6 million units of Enexco, at a price of 50 cents each, on a non-brokered basis.
Energy was lately higher, with advances in Bankers Petroleum (TSE:BNK) " up 6.38%, and Trican Well Service (TSE:TCW), rising 2.55%, while Progress Energy Resources Corp. (TSE:PRQ) also rose 2.55% after Reuters reported Friday that Petronas has submitted a modified acquisition bid to the Canadian government. The Minister of Industry rejected the 5.5 billion takeover deal last month, but said Petronas could amend its offer and present it to the government within 30 days.
Leading the decliners was Niko Resources (TSE:NKO), down over 10% after announcing late Thursday that it has reached an agreement to issue, on a "bought deal" basis, 12 million shares for gross proceeds of C102 million.
Elsewhere in the sector, Talisman Energy (TSE:TLM) edged up 0.09% and Canadian Natural Resources (TSE:CNQ) added 0.11%, while Suncor Energy (TSE:SU) shed 0.03%.
Financials were also higher, with Sun Life Financial (TSE:SLF) and the Royal Bank of Canada (TSE:RY), the nation's largest bank, up 0.79% and 0.85%, respectively, while insurer Manulife Financial (TSE:MFC) declined 0.25%.
In other Canadian corporate news, shares of Astral Media (TSE:ACM.A) were halted Friday, pending an announcement from the company, fuelling speculations of a new takeover deal with BCE Inc. (Bell) (TSE:BCE).
Early Friday, the Globe and Mail reported that the two companies have been working on a deal that would satisfy regulatory requirements, after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) last month denied BCE's attempted acquisition of Astral " saying it was not in the public interest, and that it would create a situation where BCE would be able to exert market power unfairly.
On the economic front, Statistics Canada said foreign investment in Canadian securities advanced to 13.9 billion in September, mostly due to buys of government bonds and corporate equities. Canadian investment in foreign securities hit 6 billion, a six-month high, mostly due to the acquisition of U.S. equities.
US markets were making gains Friday afternoon, on reports of "constructive" meetings between President Obama and leaders from both parties on how to avoid the looming fiscal cliff.
The Dow was lately up 45.81 points to 12,588.19, the Nasdaq rose 15.75 points to 2,852.69, and the S&P 500 went up 6.55 points to 1,359.88.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the problem should be averted by Christmas, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner both said Republicans were willing to put revenue on the table to reach a deal.
In corporate news, privately-held Hostess Brands, maker of iconic Twinkie snack cakes, filed for bankruptcy Friday, weighed down by 1 billion debt and 2 billion of unfunded pension liabilities.
Computer-maker Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) said late Thursday that earnings fell 47% in its third quarter amid plunging PC sales and weakness in other business units. Revenue fell nearly 11% to 13.7 billion. The company maintained its full-year earnings outlook, but results for the quarter were slightly below Wall Street's already-low consensus.
Shares were down 7.53% on Friday.
Clothing retailer Gap (NYSE:GPS) said it expects fiscal 2012 earnings to come in between 2.20 to 2.25 a share, up from its previous forecast of 1.95 to 2. The company also said third-quarter profit surged 60%, while same-store sales at Gap North America rose.
Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) posted a loss of 1.99 per share for its third quarter, a smaller loss than analysts had expected. Same-store sales fell 1.6% at Sears and 4.8% at Kmart. The retailer is, however, seeing improved results for areas like appliances and apparel.
The J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE:SJM) Friday said second-quarter profits jumped 17%, as revenues grew on its Sara Lee acquisition. The company also raised its full-year, per share guidance to 5.12 to 5.22, from its previous estimate of 5.00 to 5.10, and said it expects net sales to increase about seven per cent to about 5.92 billion.
However, shares of Smucker were down 2.65% as guidance missed analysts' full-year expectations of 5.19 per share on revenue of 5.95 billion.
U.K.-based Reckitt Benckiser (LON:RB) has begun a 42-per-share cash tender offer for Schiff Nutrition (NYSE:SHF), valuing the supplier of branded vitamins, nutrition supplements and nutrition bars at about 1.4 billion.
In late October, Schiff entered into a 34-per-share merger agreement with Bayer HealthCare LLC.
Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) will split into two separate publicly traded companies, a gaming-based real estate investment trust, and a gaming operator.
Nike (NYSE:NKE) late Thursday approved a 2-for-1 stock split on both its Class A and Class B common shares, payable in the form of a 100% stock dividend on December 24 to stockholders of record as of December 10.
The board also declared a post-split quarterly cash dividend of 21 cents per share, marking the 11th straight year in which Nike has hiked its dividend. This new dividend, payable December 26, equates to a 17% increase.
On the economic front, industrial production fell 0.4% in October, disappointing traders, as Hurricane Sandy reduced total output by nearly 1%, the central bank said. Wall Street's expectations were for a 0.2% increase.
European markets finished sharply lower today with shares in Germany leading the region. The DAX was down 1.32% while Britain's FTSE 100 was off 1.27% and France's CAC 40 was lower by 1.21%.