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TSX, Dow losses ease on reports Republicans will meet Sunday

North American markets looked set to end the session slightly lower Thursday, but recovered from steep losses earlier in the day on reports that Republicans plan to meet again Sunday to discuss the fiscal cliff.
TSX, Dow losses ease on reports Republicans will meet Sunday

North American markets looked set to end the session slightly lower Thursday, but recovered from steep losses earlier in the day on reports that Republicans plan to meet again Sunday to discuss the fiscal cliff.

Last week, Republican House Speaker John Boehner's "Plan B" was nixed after there weren’t enough votes for his plan to allow higher tax rates for those making $1 million and above. The threshold was much higher than President Obama’s $400,000, which was already a concession. 

Toronto's main market moved lower Thursday, while the Dow posted a triple digit loss for some time, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said earlier in the day that negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff would likely not be resolved before the end of the year.

Budget talks in Washington to avoid the more than $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect in January, have so far, failed.

Economists fear the fiscal cliff could tip the economy back into a recession if no deal is reached.

Back in Toronto as of about 3:41 p.m. EDT, the S&P/TSX Composite was lower by 16.32, or 0.13%, to 12,354.48, while the more junior S&P/TSX Venture Composite rose 6.39, or 0.54% to 1,191.99.

Meanwhile, tho Dow was lately lower by 7.02 points at 13,107.57, the Nasdaq rose 1.78 points to 2,991.94, and the S&P 500 shed 0.17 points to 1,419.66.

Commodities were mixed, with gold for February delivery settling higher Thursday on safe haven appeal, as traders remain worried that the fiscal cliff will not be resolved before January 1. 

The yellow metal rose $3.00 to $1,663.70 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, though a stronger U.S. dollar tempered gold’s gains.

Meanwhile silver futures were flat at $29.99 an ounce.

Elsewhere, crude oil for February slipped 11 cents to settle at $90.87 a barrel, while the base metal copper contract rose one cent to $3.61 a pound.

Gold giants were mostly higher, with Kinross (TSE:K) up 2.24%, while Barrick Gold (TSE:ABX) added 2.6% and Goldcorp (TSE:G) advanced 1.66%.

Toronto's main sectors were mixed Thursday.

Materials were higher, with advances seen in Gabriel Resources (TSE:GBU) – up 7.62%, while silver resource company Silver Standard (TSE:SSRI) rose 5.41% and Golden Star (TSE:GSS) advanced 4.71%.

Declines in the sector were seen in Harry Winston Diamond Corp. (TSE:HWD) – down 4.05%, while West Fraser Timber (TSE:WFT) lost 3.49% and gold exploration and development company Banro Corp. (TSE:BAA) fell 1.85%.

In other metals and mining news, Cline Mining Corp. (TSE:CMK) rose 6.25% after it announced that it has entered into an agreement with Marret Asset Management, providing for a financial restructuring of the company.

Energy was lower Thursday, with declines seen in Advantage Oil and Gas (TSE:AAV) – down 3.05%, while Trinidad Drilling (TSE:TDG) fell 1.8% and Pengrowth Energy (TSE:PGH) lost 2.65%.

Advancers in the sector were led by Niko Resources (TSE:NKO) – up 9.21%, while Petrominerales (TSE:PMG) added 4.36% and Tourmaline Coil Corp. (TSE:TOU) rose 1.92%.

Elsewhere in the sector, Poseidon Concepts Corp. (TSE:PSN) lost more than half of its value Thursday after the oilfield service company suspended its dividend, replaced its CEO and initiated a board review of its management and business processes. Shares were lately down 54.38%, trading at $1.51.

Financials were also lower, as Sun Life Financial (TSE:SLF) fell 1.32%, while the Royal Bank of Canada (TSE:RY) declined 0.78% and Manulife Financial (TSE:MFC) lost 0.82%.

Turning to the junior resource sector, WesternZagros Resources (CVE:WZR) Thursday announced it has appointed William Jack to the position of general manager in Kurdistan, effective February 1, 2013.

Jack will also be resident in Iraqi Kurdistan when he assumes the role of GM, as Ian McIntosh, VP of the Kurdistan business unit has decided to retire in January 2013, after three years with the company.

WesternZagros said that as GM in Kurdistan, Jack will be a member of the executive management team and will assume responsibility for government liaison and in-country administration. 

Vancouver-based Canamex Resources Corp. (CVE:CSQ) (OTCQX:CNMXF) Thursday announced it has closed a $21.3 million financing with Hecla Canada Ltd. 

Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes. Hecla has agreed that it will not sell the shares it has acquired for a period of one year following the closing of the equity financing between the two companies in November. It owns roughly 15% of Canamex. 

In other corporate news, Research In Motion (TSE:RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM) rose over 10%, bouncing back after the stock tumbled on the company’s statements that its revenue model would change, when it released its third quarter results earlier this month.

Mood Media Corp (TSE:MM) said it is buying the assets of Technomedia Solutions and sister company, GoConvergence, for roughly US$23 million in cash. 

Toronto-based Mood Media said it may also make an additional payment in 2014, depending on the profitable growth of the operations.

In U.S. corporate news, Diodes Inc. (NASDAQ:DIOD) shares were higher on news that it will acquire BCD Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. (NASDAQ:BCDS) for $151 million. BCD shares jumped over 90% on the news.

Deckers Outdoor Corp.(NASDAQ:DECK)  shares were up more than 8%, after analysts forecast higher sales and margins in the second half of 2013 for the maker of Ugg boots.

J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE:JCP)  shares fell more than 5%, erasing strong gains it made Wednesday after analysts reported that traffic in stores in the last weekend before Christmas was strong.

Marvell Technology Group (NASDAQ:MRVL) saw its shares sink 3.5% after it announced Thursday that it is planning to fight a verdict made in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, that  found the company guilty of patent infringement.

The $1.17 billion damages award came after a jury found the chipmaker guilty of infringing on two patents held by Carnegie Mellon University.

In a statement, the company said it if necessary, it will take its case to the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington.

On the OTC, development-stage biopharmaceutical company Soligenix (OTCQB:SNGX)Thursday said that it has regained the North American and European commercial rights to its oral treatment for inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders. 

The company's oral formulation of beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP), a topically active corticosteroid, is currently in development for pediatric Crohn's disease, acute radiation enteritis, and gastrointestinal Graft-versus-Host disease (GVHD).

Through an amendment of its collaborative agreement with Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals, Soligenix said it is now free to commercialize or enter into commercialization agreements for its oral BDP suite of products “with other parties without limitation”.

On the economic front, reports out of the U.S. were mixed. Consumer confidence declined in December as fiscal cliff worries weighed on the public’s view of the economy.

The Conference Board said its consumer-confidence index declined in December  to 65.1, down from 71.5 in November – its second straight decline and the lowest level since August. 

Another report said first-time applications for jobless benefits fell by 12,000 to 350,000 last week. 

Elsewhere, sales of new homes rose 4.4% in November to a two-and-a-half-year high. Sales of new homes rose to an annual rate of 377,000 last month, the Commerce Department said Thursday, the highest level since April 2010, when a temporary tax credit boosted demand.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast new home sales to rise to a seasonally adjusted 380,000. In October, sales were revised down to 361,000 from 368,000, based on more complete information collected by the government.

European markets finished mixed as of their recent closing prices. The CAC 40 gained 0.59% while the DAX was higher by 0.26%. The FTSE 100 was even.

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