TSX turns negative, New York bounds ahead in post-Christmas trading

TORONTO -- The Toronto stock market appeared to close in negative territory for the first time in more than a week, pulled lower by mining and energy despite a rebound in oil and copper prices.

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At mid-afternoon Tuesday, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 40.83 points at 13,268.97 as trading resumed after the Boxing Day holiday. Canada's main index had finished in the black in the previous five trading days leading into the Christmas holiday period, adding about 300 points.

It was a different story south of the border where markets had resumed trading Monday.

The Dow Jones soared 207.77 points to 17,736.04 on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 advanced 22.99 points to 2,079.49 and the Nasdaq shot up 69.89 points to 5,110.87.

On commodity markets, the February contract for benchmark crude oil rose $1.01 to US$37.82 a barrel, while February natural gas added 12 cents to US$2.37 per mmBtu. February gold was down 60 cents at US$1,068.90 an ounce, but March copper advanced six cents to US$2.14 a pound.

The Canadian dollar was also marginally higher, up 0.11 of a cent at 72.34 cents U.S.

Market watchers said rising oil prices and encouraging data on U.S. housing and consumer confidence helped lift New York markets, with technology companies among the biggest gainers.

"Historically, we tend to see favourable market returns around the holidays, and a large part of that can be attributed to depleted (trading) volumes," Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, told The Associated Press.

In corporate news, shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (TSX:VRX) fell C$16.82 or almost 11 per cent to $140.86 on news that, Michael Pearson, CEO of the embattled drugmaker, is in hospital being treated for pneumonia.

Meanwhile, Pep Boys (NYSE:PBY) surged $1.41 or more than eight per cent to US$18.82 after the auto parts and services retailer received another offer from activist investor Carl Icahn, putting the deal in the neighbourhood of US$1 billion.

Pep Boys stocks have been moving steadily higher over the last two months as a takeover bid from Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone turned into a fight for control with Icahn.



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