TORONTO — The Toronto stock market shed early losses mid-morning Thursday as positive economic data helped balance interest rate concerns.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 27.19 points to 14,361.23.The Canadian dollar was down 0.09 of a cent to 88.84 cents US after tumbling almost 9/10s of a cent Wednesday following an indication from U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen that American interest rates could be headed higher earlier than thought.Positive economic data helped U.S. indexes shed early losses.The Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index rebounded to nine in March from a negative 6.3 reading in February, well above expectations for a reading of 3.5. The increase suggested that the dampening impact of severe winter weather will not be long-lasting.The Dow Jones industrials advanced 49.28 points to 16,271.45, the Nasdaq gained 11.39 points to 4,318.99 and the S&P 500 index rose 4.74 points to 1,865.51.Indexes fell Wednesday after the Fed ended its policy meeting. It reaffirmed its plan to keep short-term rates low but it no longer mentions a specific unemployment rate that might lead it to raise rates but said instead that it will monitor a wide range of economic data.Later, Fed chair Janet Yellen signalled that the U.S. central bank could begin raising short-term rates six months after it halts its bond purchases around year’s end. The Fed has been cutting back on those purchases, a key element of stimulus that had kept long-term rates low, and said Wednesday it would further taper purchases by another US$10 billion a month to $55 billion.“With the new vague guidelines for forward guidance including just about everything except the kitchen sink, the Fed can do just about anything with rates, including raising them sooner than anticipated,” observed BMO Capital Markets senior economist Sal Guatieri.Financials led TSX advancers, up 0.5%.Oil prices were stable with the April contract unchanged at US$100.37 a barrel and the energy sector climbed 0.4%.The gold sector was ahead 0.26% as hopes that the Ukraine crisis won’t worsen weakened bullion prices for a fourth day and the April contract lost $12.50 to US$1,328.80 an ounce.Nervousness about Chinese growth continued to pummel copper prices with the May contract falling five cents to US$2.94 a pound but the base metals sector turned around and was up 0.15%. The metal has tumbled more than nine% since March 6.There have been worries that commodity financing deals in China could unravel. Such an event could also result in widespread metals liquidation.And on Thursday, Goldman Sachs lowered its 2014 gross domestic product forecast for China to 7.3% from 7.6%.In corporate news, Osisko Mining Corp., which is fighting off a hostile takeover bid by Goldcorp Inc., says that its flagship Canadian Malartic mine is expected to produce between 525,000 to 575,000 ounces of gold this year, up from 475,277 ounces in 2013. But cash costs per ounce are estimated to be between $580 and $635, down as much as 24% from last year. Osisko dipped three cents to $7.56.
The United Nations Security Council today extended the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) through the end of January 2003, while calling on the parties – the POLISARIO Front and Morocco – to cooperate fully with efforts to resolve their longstanding dispute.Specifically, the Council called on the two sides to work constructively with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his Personal Envoy to the region, James Baker III. The Council also invited Mr. Baker to pursue efforts to find a political solution and voiced its readiness to consider any approach which provides for self-determination.The Council set up MINURSO in 1991 to implement a Settlement Plan between the two sides aimed at allowing the people of the Territory to participate in a referendum to determine whether Western Sahara should be independent or integrated with Morocco. Despite extensive preparations, the conditions for holding the referendum have never been met.Today’s resolution also addressed the humanitarian situation, calling upon the parties to collaborate with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the implementation of confidence-building measures, and to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross to tackle the fate of those unaccounted for since the beginning of the conflict.The Council also urged the international community to “provide generous support to UNHCR and the World Food Programme in order to hep them overcome the deteriorating food situation among the refugees.” In addition, it welcomed the recent release of more than 100 Moroccan prisoners of war and called upon the POLISARIO Front to release without delay all those who remain in captivity.