(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) Toronto's main market was in positive territory Wednesday afternoon, helped by metals and mining stocks, amid continued wrangling in the U.S. as the White House turned down the Republican's latest budget proposal to avert the fiscal cliff.
The fiscal cliff refers to the more than 600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect in January unless Congress can reach a budget agreement.
Back in Toronto as of about 1 p.m. EDT, the S&P/TSX Composite was higher by 77.66 points, or 0.63%, to 12,412, while the more junior S&P/TSX Venture Composite fell 0.74 points, or 0.06%, to 1,175.26.
Commodities were mostly higher Wednesday afternoon, with gold for February posting moderate gains as news came out that the White House turned down the latest budget offer by the Republicans in ongoing negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff.
The yellow metal lately rose 40 cents to 1,671.10 an ounce. Meanwhile, silver fell 39 cents to 31.21 an ounce.
Elsewhere, crude oil for January added 1.49 to 89.89 a barrel, while the base metal copper contract dropped 5 cents to 3.60 a pound.
Toronto's main sectors were mostly higher, with only telecom lately in the red.
Gold giants were mixed, with Kinross (TSE:K) down 0.11%, while Barrick Gold (TSE:ABX) edged up 0.06% and Goldcorp (TSE:G) advanced 0.22%.
Materials were led higher by Sherritt International (TSE:S) " up 5.56% - while Taseko Mines (TSE:TGB) was up 4.24% after it announced that a tentative labour agreement has been reached at its Gibraltar Mine.
Meanwhile, First Quantam Minerals (TSE:FM) rose 4.13%
Declines in the sector were seen in North American Palladium (TSE:PAL) " down 4.8% - while B2Gold (TSE:BTO) lost 2.78% and AuRico Gold (TSE:AUQ) lost 2.53%.
In other metals and mining news, Globex Mining (TSE:GMX) (OTCQX:GLBXF) announced late yesterday a record date for the spin out of its Chibougamau Independent Mines (CIM) subsidiary to its shareholders. The company is spinning out a tax free dividend to its shareholders in the form of shares in CIM, which owns a large package of former mines and non NI 43-101 deposits and targets in the Chibougamau mining camp of Quebec.
Energy was higher Wednesday, with advances seen in Legacy Oil Gas (TSE:LEG) " up 3.5% - while BlackPearl Resources (TSE:PXX) and Precision Drilling Corp. (TSE:PD) were both up over 2.3%.
Declines in the sector were seen in Bonavista Energy (TSE:BNP), Birchcliff Energy (TSE:BIR) and Peyto Exploration and Development (TSE:PEY), down 1.43%, 1.19% and 1.05%, respectively.
Financials were higher, as Manulife Financial (TSE:MFC) rose 1.64%, Sun Life Financial (TSE:SLF) added 1.34% and the Royal Bank of Canada (TSE:RY) advanced 1.32%.
In other corporate news, Transat A.T. (TSE:TRZ.B) Wednesday saw its shares jump up 3.89% as it swung to a fourth-quarter profit, though sales dropped slightly.
The company also said it will restate earnings for 2011 due to "a recurring accounting error starting in 2006 within its U.K. subsidiary." The restatement will increase the size of its 2011 loss. The Montreal-based tour operator runs primarily in the holiday travel sector and markets its service in the Americas and Europe.
On the economic front, Statistics Canada told us this morning that wholesale sales moved higher 0.9% to 49.2 billion in October, following a decline of 1.5% the previous month.
Additionally, it reported that the number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits in October edged up 4,600, or 0.9%, to 535,000, after a slight drop in September.
U.S. stocks were mixed, hovering just above or below the breakeven mark Wednesday afternoon after the White House rejected the latest Republican budget proposal to avert the fiscal cliff.
As of around 1 p.m., the Dow was down 7.43 points to 13,343.53, the Nasdaq edged up 3.37 points to 3,057.90 and the S&P 500 was lower by 2.2 points to 1,444.59.
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement that President Barack Obama would veto the plan offered by House Speaker John Boehner, which includes raising taxes on incomes of 1 million or above.
Boehner originally wanted tax increases on no one, but the threshold is still much higher than President Obama's 400,000 threshold, which was already a concession.
"The proposal from the Ohio Republican would give millionaires a tax break of 50,000, while eliminating tax cuts that 25 million students and families struggling to make ends meet depend on," Pfeiffer said.
A vote is expected on Thursday.
On the economic front, the only data point was housing starts for November. Housing starts last month fell to 861,000 from a downwardly revised 888,000 in October. Analysts expected less of a drop, to 865,000, largely due to the impact from Hurricane Sandy.
Building permits, meanwhile, rose 3.6% in November to 899,000.
In corporate news, Knight Capital Group (NYSE: KCG) shares rose as it agreed to be bought by rival electronics trading firm GETCO in a 1.4 billion cash-and-stock deal, with the two companies to be merged under a new publicly traded holding company.
Shares of General Motors (NYSE:GM) jumped over 8% after the auto maker said it would buy 200 million shares of its stock from the U.S. Treasury, part of the government's plan to sell all of its stake in the company in the next 12 to 15 months.
According to a Bloomberg report, healthcare company Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) will cut about a fifth of its 3,000-member sales force for primary care pharmaceuticals as part of a continued cost-cutting strategy after losing its patent on its cholesterol drug, Lipitor.
On the earnings front, economic bellwether FedEx (NYSE:FDX) stood by its full-year earnings outlook, while Hurricane Sandy hurt profits in the second quarter. FedEx also said it expects to show a third-quarter profit of 1.25 to 1.45 a share, down from a year ago and compared to a 1.45 estimate, but affirmed its full-year adjusted earnings target of 6.20 to 6.60 a share.
General Mills (NYSE:GIS) raised its profit outlook for the year, and quarterly profit came to 541.6 million, or 82 cents a share, up from 444.8 million, or 67 cents, earned in the same period during fiscal 2012. Sales improved to 4.88 billion from the prior year's 4.62 billion.
Navistar International Corp. (NYSE:NAV) swung to a wider-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter loss due to several large charges, while sales declined. The vehicle and engine manufacturer recently agreed to name to its board three directors nominated by activist investor Carl Icahn.
Late Tuesday, Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) posted better-than-expected results for its second fiscal quarter, and issued an upbeat forecast for its hardware business next quarter, sending shares higher on Wednesday.
In bio tech news, shares in Oncothyreon (NASDAQ:ONTY) plummeted over 54% Wednesday after the company said that a phase 3 trial of its lung cancer drug did not meet the main goal of improving overall survival in patients.
European markets finished higher today with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 was up 0.44% while Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.43% and Germany's DAX added 0.19%.