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At the open: RIM suffers more sharp losses; indexes mixed

Andrew MacLeod, RIM managing director for Canada, left, and Brian Bidulka, chief financial officer, shake hands at the global launch of the new BB10 in Toronto.


North American stock markets opened mixed, with Research In Motion Ltd. leading decliners one day after the official unveiling of the BlackBerry 10 devices critical to its survival.

RIM shares opened down about 11 per cent but quickly came off those lows and at last check were down 7 per cent. The stock fell about 12 per cent on Wednesday.

Aside from some nervous profit-taking, there's disappointment that U.S. customers will have to wait until March to get their hands on the new devices. The slow-to-arrive BlackBerry 10 products in the U.S. also prompted analysts to push back higher sales estimates for RIM until later this year.

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At least two analysts have downgraded the stock since Wednesday, including Credit Suisse (to "underperform" from "neutral") and Evercore Partners (to "equal weight" from "underweight." Many other analysts trimmed their price targets.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 49 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 12,744; the S&P 500 was up 1 point, or 0.07 per cent, at 1,503; and the Dow Jones industrial average was up 25 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 13,931.

U.S. economic data this morning did little to move markets. New U.S. jobless claims last week jumped 38,000 to 368,000. That's a one-month high and a little more than economists expected, but claims are usually quite volatile this time of year.

The U.S. employment cost index rose a mild 0.5 per cent in the fourth quarter when seasonally adjusted, matching Street expectations.

And U.S. personal income rose 2.6 per cent in December, the fastest pace in eight years, and much higher than economists had predicted. But much of that jump was attributed to one-time dividend distributions during the month.

In Canada, November GDP was up 0.3 per cent, accelerating from a rise of 0.1 per cent in October and no gain in September. The loonie got a slight lift on the news, and is currently nearly unchanged on the day at 99.84 cents (U.S.) after being slightly lower earlier today.

The market mood overall is cautious given how well stocks have performed of late. The S&P 500 has risen 5.3 per cent this month, the strongest January performance since 1989, according to Bloomberg. The S&P 500 is now only 4 per cent below its all-time high in October 2007 and the Dow Jones industrial average is less than 2 per cent away from smashing its record.

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While investors haven't been this bullish in a long while, there are still concerns about unexpected shocks that could send stocks into a retreat. A particular risk is if the U.S. economy shows more signs of losing momentum. This was highlighted Wednesday when fourth-quarter GDP stunned economists by showing a contraction. However, most the decline was blamed on one-time factors and growth is expected to return this year.

Here's a look at some other stocks moving on news this morning:

Facebook Inc. shares are down 6 per cent. It's been seeing volatile trade since reporting earnings late Wednesday that appeared to be better than Street expectations but kept concerns over its future growth and spending plans intact.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. turned in a much poorer than expected fourth quarter on Thursday, the result of slumping demand across its product lines in a year when top Asian buyers held back from the market. Shares opened down 2 per cent.

Colgate-Palmolive Co. reported a quarterly profit of $1.26 per share, improving from $1.21 a share. Shares are down 3 per cent.

Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. said its quarterly profit improved to 50 cents a share from 45 cents. Shares are down 0.6 per cent.

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About the Author
Investment Editor

Darcy Keith is The Globe and Mail's Investment Editor. He has been a business journalist since 1992 and joined the Report on Business in 2010 from Yahoo! Canada, where he was the senior editor of finance. More


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