Sears, Saputo in focus Equity markets in Toronto stumbled slightly out of the gate Thursday amid mixed commodities and U.S. earnings news. The S&P/TSX composite index gave back 11.26 points to open for business Thursday at 13,761.32 The Canadian dollar moved higher by 0.24 cents to 91.67 cents U.S. Bombardier will be in focus after the transportation giant said the entry of its new CSeries passenger jets has been delayed. It said that the CS100 won't be going into service until the second half of 2015 while the CS300 will go into service about six months later. The initial CSeries planes were expected to be ready for service late this year or early in 2015 after 12 months of flight tests, which began in mid-September last year. The company also announced a firm agreement to sell 16 CS300 aircraft to a Saudi Arabian airline with an option to sell an additional 10 aircraft. The order for the 16 aircraft is valued at approximately $1.21 billion U.S., but should all 10 options be exercised, the value of the contract would increase to $1.99 billion U.S. Bombardier shares dipped 24 cents , or 5.3%, at the outset to $4.32 . In other corporate news, Montreal -based food company Saputo is closer to acquiring Australia's oldest dairy processor. Bega Cheese Ltd. says it will sell its 18.8% stake in Warrnambool Cheese & Butter to Saputo. Prior to Bega's announcement, Saputo had acquired about one-quarter of Warrnambool's stock. Saputo continues to face one rival, Australia's Murray Goulburn , which owns about 17.7% of Warrnambool . Saputo shares gained 18 cents to $51.12 . Sears Canada is cutting more than 1,600 positions as the company looks for ways to lower expenses. The retailer has eliminated 283 jobs at warehouses across much of the country and it will also outsource the 1,345 associate jobs at its three customer call centres in Toronto , Montreal and Belleville, Ont. , over the next nine months. Sears shares eased a penny to $12.90 . On the economic front, Statistics Canada reported that offshore investors added $8.7 billion of Canadian securities to their holdings in November, mostly corporate securities. It's the fifth straight monthly rise, while Canadian investors acquired $6.6 billion of foreign securities, all bonds. ON BAYSTREET The TSX Venture Exchange headed backwards 2.78 points to 973.03. Eight of the 14 Toronto subgroups were higher in the first hour, with metals and mining stocks gaining 2%, global base metals ahead 1.7%, and gold up 0.6%. The half-dozen laggards were weighed mostly by industrials, down 0.9%, consumer staples, down 0.5%, and telecoms, off 0.2%. ON WALLSTREET Bad news from Corporate America weighed on the market Thursday morning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average erased 47.61 points to start the day at 16,434.33 The S&P 500 index dipped 3.42 points to 1,844.76. The NASDAQ retreated 2.12 points to 4,212.76 from the loftiest levels it had seen in 13 years. Best Buy was the biggest loser in the S&P 500, with shares tumbling almost 30% in the early going. Investors were disappointed after the retailer reported a drop in holiday sales. Also in the retail world, shares of J.C. Penney declined after the troubled department store owner announced plans to eliminate 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores. Investors were also wading through a number of quarterly results Thursday, including reports from banks Goldman Sachs and Citigroup Citigroup's earnings were the first from the big six banks to disappoint investors. Shares declined more than 3% after reporting earnings and revenue that fell short of expectations. Goldman Sachs' earnings were better than analysts forecasts, but shares were also lower as the bank's profit in the last three months of 2013 fell 19% from a year earlier. Shares of railroad CSX fell sharply after the company said its profit declined during the fourth quarter due to weak coal demand. Shares of rival railroads Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, which report results next week, were also down. Intel and American Express are scheduled to report results in the afternoon. In other corporate news, shares of Hewlett-Packard moved higher as investors grew optimistic about the firm's plans to sell some new tablets in the Indian market. . CEC Entertainment, the owner of Chuck E. Cheese, announced that private equity firm Apollo Global Management was buying it for $1.3 billion U.S. On the economic front, filings for initial jobless claims fell last week. A reading on consumer prices for December showed that inflation remains tame. Prices for 10-year U.S. Treasuries gained strength, lowering yields to 2.85% from Wednesday's 2.88%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions. Oil prices slid 16 cents to $94.01 U.S. a barrel. Gold prices picked up $4.30 to $1,242.60 U.S. an ounce.
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