The Toronto stock market was modestly higher amid a major oilpatch acquisition along with earnings disappointments and dividend cuts in the resource sector.
The S&P/TSX composite index gained 37.67 points to 14,115.14. New York indexes were mixed after the U.S. Commerce Department reported that U.S. housing starts fell by 10 per cent to an annualized rate of 899,000 in January, down 16 per cent from December. In December, construction had fallen almost five per cent.
The Canadian dollar dropped 0.52 of a cent to 90.80 cents (U.S.).
The Dow Jones industrials gained 22.35 points to 16,152.75, the Nasdaq was down 8.49 points to 4,264.3 while the S&P 500 index was up 1.01 points to 1,839.75.
The TSX and New York markets had put in a lacklustre performance Tuesday amid manufacturing and real estate data that showed severe winter weather is having an impact on U.S. economic performance.
On the Toronto market, a major early gainer was Cargojet. Its shares jumped $4.14 or 28.82 per cent to $18.50. The cargo carrier says it has been awarded a domestic air cargo network services contract for the Canada Post group of companies, including Purolator's national air cargo network. The company projects revenues will be approximately $1-billion during the initial seven-year agreement, based on projected volumes.
On the earnings front, Sherritt International Corp. reported a $38.1-million adjusted net loss in the fourth quarter, equal to 13 cents per share as it recognized a $466.8-million impairment loss related to the sale of its coal business. Analysts had expected Sherritt's adjusted earnings would break even. Sherritt cut its quarterly cash dividend to one cent from about four cents per share. Its shares fell 28 cents or 8.15 per cent to $3.15.
Yamana Gold posted a quarterly net loss of $583.9-million (U.S.) or 78 cents per share, compared with a net profit of $169.2-million or 23 cents per share a year ago. Revenue fell to $420.6-million from $629.5-million. Adjusted earnings were $36.7-million or five cents per share compared with $197.4-million or 26 cents in the prior-year period. Its shares added a penny to $11.53 as the Toronto-based gold miner also cut its quarterly dividend almost in half to 3.75 cents per share.
Quebec-based power producer Boralex Inc. said its quarterly cash flow from operations was $16.1-million or 43 cents per share, up from $13.5-million or 36 cents per share a year ago. Boralex will also pay its first dividend, 13 cents per shares. Its shares ran ahead 99 cents or eight per cent to $13.37.
The energy sector led advancers, up one per cent while the March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 26 cents to $102.69 a barrel.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. jumped $1.25 or 3.2 per cent to $40.43 as it said that it will pay $3.125-billion cash to buy conventional oil and gas assets near its core areas in Western Canada in a major land deal with Devon Canada.
The base metals sector was up 0.14 per cent while March copper was up one cent at $3.29 a pound.
The gold sector led decliners, down 0.5 per cent while April bullion faded $4.10 to $1,320.30 an ounce.