Thursday, December 06, 2012 04:29 PM EST Market closes flat Loblaw, financial news dominates The Toronto stock market was little changed Thursday afternoon despite strong earnings reports from TD Bank, CIBC and National Bank. The S&P/TSX composite index settled back 6.16 points to close out the day at 12,151.13 The Canadian dollar was up 0.10 cents to 100.91 cents U.S. The market did get some lift from grocer Loblaw Companies Ltd. Its stock soared $4.60, or 13.7% to $38.20 on very heavy volume of 9.2 million shares after the company said it wants to unlock shareholder value by creating one of the largest real estate investment trusts in Canada. Units of the REIT are expected to be sold in an initial public offering to be completed in mid-2013, subject to regulatory approvals. Shares in Loblaw majority owner George Weston ran up $4.30, or 6.8%, to $67.71 TD Bank’s quarterly profit amounted to $1.66 per share before adjustments, down two cents per share from the same time last year. On an adjusted basis, TD had $1.83 per share of diluted earnings, up from $1.75 per share a year earlier and two cents a share above a consensus estimate. Its shares dropped $1.46 to $81.12 as revenue totaled $5.89 billion, slightly less than the $6 billion analysts expected. TD also announced it is buying the U.S.-based Epoch investment management business for $668 million U.S. in cash. CIBC shares dipped 38 cents to $80.14 as the bank had $852 million or $2.02 per share of net income in the fourth quarter, an increase of nearly $100 million from the same time last year. On an adjusted basis, CIBC’s fourth-quarter profit amounted to $2.04 per share, six cents above estimates. Revenue totaled $3.16 billion, slightly missing analyst forecasts of $3.2 billion. And National Bank’s quarterly earnings ran ahead 20% from a year ago to $351 million or $1.97 per share. Ex-items, the bank earned $1.93 a share, which matched expectations. National is also upping its dividend by 5% to 83 cents a share but its shares gave back $1.11 to $76.66. The industrial sector was up amid a major deal by transport giant Bombardier Inc.’s Aerospace division. American carrier Delta Air Lines has placed a firm order for 40 of its CRJ900 NextGen regional jets. Delta has also taken options on an additional 30 planes. Montreal-based Bombardier said that, based on the list price, the firm order is valued at approximately $1.85 billion U.S. and could reach approximately $3.29-billion if the 30 options are exercised. Its shares gained five cents to $3.33. The consumer discretion sector was up as Dollarama Inc. posted quarterly net profits of $51.5 million or 68 cents per diluted share, up from $41.8 million or 55 cents a year earlier. Revenues soared to just under $458 million from $400.3million but its shares dipped $1.51 to $61.09. And Rona Inc. shares gained 30 cents to $10.45 as it said it is planning to sell non-core assets to focus the business and improve profitability. Rona is Canada’s largest home-improvement retailer. Among gold plays, Kinross Gold gained 11 cents to $9.55. Among techs, Research In Motion Ltd. down three cents to $11.81. Suncor Energy Inc. says unplanned maintenance work at its oilsands plant led to lower than expected production in November. Full-year production is expected to fall in the low end of its target range of 325,000 to 340,000 barrels per day. Its shares declined 20 cents to $32.48. In other corporate news, Lululemon Athletica Inc. earned $57.3 million or 39 cents a share in its latest quarter, up from $38.8-million a year ago. Revenue grew by 37% to $316.5 million. Its shares were $4.85, or 7.1%, higher at $72.89. On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported this morning that the total value of building permits in this country rose 15.0% to $7.5 billion in October, following a 12.7% decline in September, mostly due to higher construction intentions for non-residential buildings, mostly in Ontario and Quebec. Purchasing activity in Canada unexpectedly fell in November, according to Ivey Purchasing Managers Index data released on Thursday, the latest report to suggest economic weakness has carried into the fourth quarter. The seasonally adjusted index fell to 47.5 in November from 58.3 in October. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an adjusted reading of 58.6. ON BAYSTREET The TSX Venture Exchange recouped 2.16 points to 1,186.70 Eight of the 14 Toronto subgroups were higher on the day. Consumer staples gained 1.2%, while industrials added 0.9% and consumer discretionaries prospered 0.5%. The half-dozen laggards were weighed mostly by financials, down 0.6%, metals and mining, sagging 0.3%, and energy, off 0.2%. ON WALLSTREET Fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington continue to hover over activities on Wall Street U.S. stocks were slightly higher for a second day Thursday, thanks to strength from the technology sector, including Apple's 1.3% rise. But the gains were limited as investors refrained from making big bets as long as the fiscal cliff remains unresolved. The Dow Jones Industrials acquired 39.55 points to close the day at 13,074. The S&P 500 moved higher 4.66 points to 1,413.94, while the Nasdaq Composite Index took on 15.57 points to 2,989.27 On the corporate front, Apple shares rose, following a two-day loss of 8%. In an interview scheduled to air Thursday evening, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple will begin manufacturing one of its existing Mac line of computers exclusively in the United States next year. Yoga apparel maker lululemon athletica's third-quarter earnings topped expectations. Though guidance for the fourth quarter fell short of forecasts, its shares gained 3%. Shares of Zynga surged after the company said it had filed an application for a gaming license in Nevada, taking a step towards real-money gaming, or RMG. Zynga has been struggling to make money off what appears to be the waning popularity of its social-network based games. President Obama told members of the Business Roundtable Wednesday that there has been "some movement" on the Republican side toward allowing rates to rise on high-income taxpayers. If this continues, he said, "we can probably solve this in about a week." If lawmakers fail to strike a deal before the end of the year to avert the $500 billion U.S. in scheduled tax increases and spending cuts, they risk pushing the U.S. economy into recession. Meanwhile, investors also continued to keep an eye on the latest jobs data leading up to the monthly jobs report due Friday. The U.S. Labor Department reported that the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits dropped 25,000 to 370,000 last week. Economists predict the department's report on Friday will show the U.S. economy added only 77,000 jobs in November, which would mean a major hiring slowdown after 171,000 jobs were created a month earlier. Treasury prices picked up ground, lowering yields on the 10-year note to 1.58% from Wednesday’s 1.59%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions. Oil prices gave back $1.54 to $86.34 U.S. a barrel. Gold prices regained seven dollars an ounce to $1,700.80 U.S.