Bay Street stocks closed a choppy session little-changed on Friday. Gold stocks followed the precious metal lower, offsetting a strong session for the Information Technologies Index.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index dropped 7.38 points or 0.08% to end at 9,065.76. The slight loss was the first in four sessions for the index.
Gold stocks plunged 7.25% and materials stocks lost 4.1% as the precious metal moved below $900 on the Comex. Eldorado (ELD.TO) has plunged 8.7%, Iamgold (IMG.TO) dropped 8.5% and Seagold (SEA.TO) and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) fell 6.8% and Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) dropped 6.7%.
June-dated gold, the most actively traded contract, dropped $11.60 to finish the session at $897.30 per ounce. April gold dropped $11.80 to $895.60.
The Technology Index surged 6.85% as Research in Motion (RIM) surged 19.4%. The Blackberry maker reported net income for the fourth quarter of $518.3 million or $0.90 per share, compared to $412.5 million or $0.72 per share for the year-ago quarter.
RIM expects first-quarter revenue of $3.3 billion to $3.5 billion and earnings of $0.88 to $0.97 per share. Analysts currently expect the company to earn $0.82 per share on revenue of $3.35 billion.
Mining stocks gained 3.2%. First Quantum (FM.TO) surged 8% and Teck Cominco (TCK.B.TO) gained 3.8%.
Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) dropped 2.75% after the company said it will sell 80 million of its common shares to a syndicate of underwriters led by GMP Securities for gross proceeds of $164 million.
In other corporate news, Cascades (CAS.TO) slipped 1.25% after the company said that Norampac, a division of Cascades Canada Inc., will terminate production activities at its Quebec city based corrugated products plant, due to considerable reduction in business volume and unfavorable economic factors. Nearly 145 employees will be affected by this closure that will be effective before the end of 2009.
Sino-Forest (TRE.TO) dropped 6.8% after Friday, Credit Suisse downgraded the shares to Neutral from Outperform, while increasing its price target to C$12 from C$10.
Ivernia (IVW.TO) lost 3.4% after Griffin Mining announced that it has withdrawn its proposed takeover for the company.
In economic news across the border, a Labor Department report showed that non-farm payroll employment fell by 663,000 jobs in March following an unrevised decrease of 651,000 jobs in February. The drop in jobs came roughly in line with economists' expectations of a decrease of 658,000 levels.
With the continued decrease in jobs, the unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent in March from 8.1 percent in the previous month, in line with expectations. With the increase, the unemployment rate rose to its highest level since November of 1983.
Thursday, the S&P/TSX Composite Index surged 131.32 or 1.46% to 9,073.14. This marked the best finish for the index since Jan. 9.
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