TSX lower as Europe fears continue to weigh on commodity prices

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market was lower Thursday on the final day of first-quarter trading but the market found support in a surprise profit from tech giant BlackBerry amid the rollout of its new touchscreen Z10 smartphone.BlackBerry shares (TSX:BB) (NASDAQ:BBRY) were up 58 cents or 3.92 per cent at $15.38 after the company posted a profit of US$98 million or 19 cents per share compared with a loss of $125 million or 24 cents per share a year ago.The S&P/TSX composite index was off the worst levels of the day as base metal stocks turned positive, but was still down 15.4 points at 12,684.25 in a session that featured another round of worry about the future of the eurozone. The TSX Venture Exchange slipped 0.22 of a point to 1,097.57 in the final day of a shortened trading week ahead of the Easter holiday weekend.“There hasn’t really been much in the way of good news out of anywhere,” said Colin Cieszynski, market analyst at CMC Markets Canada..“It seems as though we have a lot of people who are closing out positions and who can blame people for not wanting to do much.”The Canadian dollar was off session highs but still up 0.03 of a cent at 98.41 cents US amid January gross domestic product figures that showed Canada’s economy grew at a faster than expected clip after faltering at the end of 2012.Statistics Canada reported that real gross domestic product in January grew by 0.2 per cent. That was better than the 0.1 per cent gain economists had expected and followed a 0.2 per cent dip in December.U.S. indexes registered gains going into the weekend amid other data that showed that the U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster but still anemic rate at the end of last year.The Dow Jones industrials index gained 44.89 points to 14,571.05.The Nasdaq composite index edged 4.01 points higher to 3,260.53 while the S&P 500 index could be on the way to a record high close, jumping 4.2 points to 1,567.05, surpassing its record closing high of Oct. 9, 2007.The Commerce Department says the economy grew at an annual rate of 0.4 per cent in the October-December quarter. That was slightly better than the previous estimate of 0.1 per cent growth. The revision reflected stronger business investment and export sales.Traders looked to Cyprus where banks reopened after a nearly two-week shutdown as the tiny Mediterranean country negotiated a bailout agreement with international creditors that will see many large depositors lose a big chunk of their money.“It opens up a Pandora’s box and who can trust their banks now?” added Cieszynski.The mood was generally calm despite some long queues at certain branches. Cyprus has imposed capital controls to prevent a run on the banks, the first time such measures have been taken since the euro was established in 1999.The TSX was set to end the week with a loss after the Cyprus bailout agreement was clinched in the early hours of Monday morning. Early relief gave way to concern that the Cyprus bailout agreement may be a model for the future.Uncertainty over the political future of Italy was also putting pressure on the euro. Following inconclusive elections around a month ago, the country is still without a government and that has raised concerns over its future economic path. Italy is the third-largest economy of the 17 countries that use the euro.The financials sector fell 0.4 per cent, with Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) dropping $1 to $58.41.The gold sector was down 0.65 per cent as June bullion dipped $8.30 to US$1,598.90 an ounce. Iamgold Corp. (TSX:IMG) faded seven cents to C$7.31.The energy sector was off 0.1 per cent even as May crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange inched up three cents to US$96.61 a barrel.Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) shares added 12 cents to C$30.52 after it announced Wednesday it was not going ahead with its troubled Voyageur oilsands upgrader project, citing market conditions which have changed significantly, challenging the economics of the project. Suncor took a $1.49-billion writedown on Voyageur in the fourth quarter of 2012.The company said it will take a charge to its first quarter net income and cash flow from operations of approximately $140 million and $180 million respectively as a result of the decision.The TSX found support from the utilities sector, up about one per cent as Atlantic Power (TSX:ATP) gained nine cents to $5.18.Industrials also advanced with Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) ahead $2.27 to $131.33.May copper shed early gains and was unchanged at US$3.44 a pound and the base metals sector gained 0.26 per cent. Rio Alto Mining (TSX:RIO) rose 17 cents to C$4.90.European bourses advanced as London’s FTSE 100 index gained 0.8 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was up 0.53 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 climbed 0.77 per cent.

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