Gold hikes, metals droop The Toronto stock market remained in negative territory on Thursday morning, as Wall Street weakened on disappointing earnings and a weak outlook for the Chinese economy. The S&P/TSX composite index had erased 36.18 to greet noon at 13,952.02. The Canadian dollar tumbled 0.35 cents , to 89.85 cents U.S. Dorel Industries Inc. is closing an assembly and testing facility in Pennsylvania and moving a research and development unit in Connecticut in a cost-reduction effort at its Recreational and Leisure segment, which makes bicycles. Dorel says about 100 employees will be affected globally. Dorel shares were down 30 cents to $40.91 . Canadian cheesemaker Saputo Inc. has emerged victorious in a bidding war for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter after Australia's largest dairy producer called off the battle. The Murray Goulburn Co-Operative will sell its shares to Saputo, and expects to receive at least AU$92.8 million cash in return. Saputo shares rose 24 cents to $52.93 . The gold sector proved one of the few bright spots, as Agnico Eagle Mines rocketed $2.31 , or 7.3%, to $33.93 , while Barrick Gold spiked 85 cents , or 4.1%, to $21.66 . The base metals sector provided the biggest drag Thursday morning, as Capstone Mining tumbled 10 cents , or 3.1%, to $3.09 , and First Quantum surrendered 48 cents , or 2.3%, to $20.19 . The global economy started 2014 on a disjointed note, with the euro zone's private sector in better shape than expected and China's vast manufacturing industry contracting for the first time in six months. Domestically, Statistics Canada reported that retail sales came in for November at $41 billion , or 0.6% higher than the month before, in contrast to a market call for a gain of 0.2%. StatsCan chalks the hike up to higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers as well as electronics and appliance stores. The agency also noted that there were 512,300 people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits in November, virtually unchanged from October. ON BAYSTREET The TSX Venture Exchange was down 0.05 points to 980.39 All but two of the 14 Toronto subgroups were lower, weighed mostly by the metals and mining sector, down 1.1%, financials, off 1%, and information technology, sliding 0.8%. The two gainers were gold, up 4.4%, and materials, ahead 1.6%. ON WALLSTREET Stocks slid Thursday as investors fretted about corporate earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 176.05 points, or 1.1%, to break for noon hour at 16,197.29. If the Dow finishes the day lower, that would be the third straight day of declines. The S&P 500 index faded 17.11 points to 1,827.75. The NASDAQ drifted lower by 35.94 points to 4,207.06 Shares of Nokia tanked after the cell phone and networking equipment maker reported a bigger than expected loss and drop in sales. Microsoft which is in the process of buying the device business of Nokia, will report its earnings after the bell. In addition to results investors will be looking for information on Microsoft's CEO succession plans. McDonald's was slightly higher Thursday after it reported a modest gain in income but revenue that fell short of forecasts. But it was just one of two Dow stocks that were higher in early trading. UnitedHealth was the other. Shares of IBM were up a bit after it announced a deal early Thursday to sell part of its server business to Chinese computer maker Lenovo for $2.3 billion U.S. IBM fell on Wednesday as well following a weak earnings report. Facebook shares dropped Thursday after a report Wednesday calling the social media giant's longevity into question by comparing it to Myspace . Facebook had been on a tear, but investors have pulled back in recent days as they gear up for the company's earnings next week. Prices for 10-year U.S. Treasuries hiked, lowering yields to 2.80% from Wednesday's 2.86%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions. Oil prices leaped 96 cents to $97.68 U.S. a barrel. Gold prices bolstered $21.50 to $1,260.10 U.S. an ounce.
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