TSX higher as mining stocks rise

The Toronto stock market registered a solid gain Tuesday as investors continued to pick up beaten-down mining stocks and took in two disappointing earnings reports from the retail sector.The S&P/TSX composite index was up 66.51 points to 12,275.38.The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.22 of a cent at 94.92 cents US amid data showing that Canadian housing starts came in at an annualized rate of 199,586 units in June, a decrease from 204,616 in May. That was much better than the reading of 190,000 starts that analysts had been expecting.U.S. indexes also advanced as Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA), the first Dow component to report its second-quarter results, failed to benefit from quarterly earnings which beat revenue and profit expectations. Alcoa said after the close of markets Monday that it earned seven cents a share, a penny better than forecast. Revenue came in at $5.85 billion, surpassing expectations of $5.8 billion. However, its stock lost early momentum and slipped four cents to US$7.87.“Does anyone really care about an aluminum company?” said Gareth Watson, vice-president at Richardson GMP Ltd. “Right now the market’s attention is not on base metal stocks. So even if it has a good report, I think people are putting their money into interest sensitive and dividend yielding stocks and if they are getting cyclical, they’re doing it in other areas such as industrials.”The Dow Jones industrials advanced 80.26 points 15,304.95, the Nasdaq gained 18.87 points to 3,503.7 and the S&P 500 index was ahead 12.01 points at 1,652.47.Meanwhile, executives at smartphone maker BlackBerry (TSX:BB) were in investor crosshairs as the company held its annual meeting.BlackBerry reported a loss for its most recent quarter, when most analysts had expected it to turn a profit. At the meeting, chief executive Thorsten Heins encouraged shareholders to remain patient as the company pushes ahead with a plan to become profitable again. Heins says it’s going to take time, and just how long is unpredictable due to the volatile smartphone industry. Its stock was up 14 cents to $10.24, well off its 52-week high of $18.49.Shares in Jean Coutu Group (TSX:PJC.A) fell 67 cents to $17.14 after the pharmacy retailer said it earned $108.6 million or 51 cents per share, down from $397.3 million or $1.81 per share a year ago, mainly due to much smaller gains from the sale of shares in U.S. pharmacy chain Rite Aid.Excluding one-time items, earnings were $54.2 million or 26 cents per share, which matched expectations. Revenue was almost unchanged from a year ago at $681.6 million, which missed forecasts for more than $702 million.Shares of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (TSX:ATD.B) were also lower after it reported a large year-over-year increase in net earnings in the fourth quarter, but fell short of analyst estimates on adjusted profit.Excluding one-time items, the convenience store and gas station operator said it earned 61 cents US per share, well below expectations of 77 cents per share. Its shares were down $3.72 or 6.06 per cent at $57.67.Mining stocks benefited from bargain hunting for a second day. Falling demand for resources has pushed the TSX base metals sector down 32 per cent so far this year. The gold sector has fared much worse, down 47 per cent year to date as the Federal Reserve signalled it could start tapering its economic stimulus program of bond purchases later in the year while inflationary pressures remain tame.But Watson said “those factors aren’t there anymore so longer term as an investment there is no reason for people to get into the sector. “And for those who want to do short term trading on the actual bullion and equities, go right ahead. But there is still a significant risk gold prices will move lower here.”On Tuesday, the base metals sector was ahead 2.4 per cent even as copper prices fell further on demand concerns, with the September contract down three cents to US$3.06 a pound. HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) climbed 16 cents to C$6.80 and Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) advanced 93 cents to $22.11.Railway stocks advanced alongside mining stocks after losing some ground Monday amid questions about the transport of crude oil in the wake of a derailment over the weekend in Lac-Megantic, Que., killing at least 13 people and leaving nearly 40 more missing. Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) rose 90 cents to $103.63 while Canadian Pacific (TSX:CP) climbed $1.61 to $128.30.The gold sector rose 0.7 per cent as gold prices rose slightly with the August bullion contract in New York ahead $11 to US$1,245.90. Eldorado Gold (TSX:ELD) gained 17 cents to C$6.40 while Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) ran ahead 42 cents to $25.33.The August crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange shook off early losses to advance 29 cents to US$103.43 a barrel and the energy sector swung from negative ground to advance 0.7.Canadian Oil Sands (TSX:COS) fell 89 cents to C$19.88 while Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) improved by 64 cents to $42.42.In other economic news, the International Monetary Fund upgraded Canada’s growth expectations for this year to 1.7 per cent from 1.5 per cent, but warned that overall global conditions remain uneven, weak and perilous.The IMF expects growth around the world will barely top three per cent this year, moderately lower than previously thought, and only start showing signs of life at 3.8 per cent in 2014. read more

Sri Lanka facing challenge of an aging population

Sri Lanka is facing the challenge of an aging population and the matter will be discussed at the third meeting of the Asia-Europe Political Forum (AEPF) and the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) in Colombo from 5 to 7 April 2019, the Foreign Ministry said.Approximately (90) ninety participants representing political parties in Asia and Europe are expected to be in attendance at this International Conference. In the recent past several political parties in Sri Lanka have been actively participating in ICAPP activities. Considering the positive contribution made by Sri Lanka towards the progress of the ICAPP in the past, the ICAPP Secretariat invited the Government of Sri Lanka to host the 3rd meeting of Asia-Europe Political Forum (AEPF) in Colombo from 5 to 7 April 2019.Park Ro-byug, Secretary General, ICAPP visited Sri Lanka on 22 March 2019 and met the President, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Primary Industries and Social Empowerment and senior officials of the respective Ministries. Subsequent to these deliberations, the Government of Sri Lanka consented to host the AEPF in Colombo in April 2019. Launched in Manila, Philippines in September 2000, ICAPP is a forum of political parties of Asia-Oceania countries. ICAPP is headquartered in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Its objectives are to promote exchanges and cooperation between political parties with various ideologies, to enhance mutual understanding and trust among Asian countries; to promote Asia’s regional cooperation through political parties; and to create an environment for sustained peace and shared prosperity in the region. The Conference will be organized by the Ministry of Primary Industries and Social Empowerment in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This will be an occasion for Sri Lanka to create a platform bringing together political parties from both the ruling and opposition parties of ICAPP member countries in Asia and Europe, for consultation and exchange of ideas drawing from each other’s experience. Further, the conference will help boost the image of Sri Lanka as a ICAAP member country, prepared to share global values and challenges with the rest of the world.The theme of the conference is “How political parties can handle the challenges of social security and employment of the increasing aged population as well as items of current urgency in the Asian region”. read more