Stocks rise on hopes Greece will seek a loan extension

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed modestly higher Tuesday amid positive corporate news and hopes that Greece and its creditors will soon come to an agreement on the country’s debt.The S&P/TSX composite index moved up 19.8 points to 15,284.61 after the Wall Street Journal reported that Greece will seek an extension to its bailout deal from the rest of the eurozone on Wednesday.The Canadian dollar rose 0.56 of a cent to 80.81 cents US.The Dow industrials gained 28.23 points to 18,047.58, the Nasdaq edged up 5.43 points to 4,899.27 and the S&P 500 index moved up 3.35 points to 2,100.34.Worries about a possible Greek exit from the eurozone grew after talks between the country’s finance minister and his 18 eurozone counterparts broke down Monday.Greece was told it had to ask for an extension to its bailout program. But Greece’s new Syriza government countered that it had a strong mandate to reject the austerity measures that have kept the country from financial collapse.Without some sort of financing arrangements in place when the current bailout ends after Feb. 28, Greece could face difficulties meeting its obligations and a potential exit from the euro would loom once again.However, the mood is much different from a few years ago when the Greek debt crisis first roiled markets as concerns about other vulnerable eurozone countries are well in check this time.“One of the big question marks is, if indeed no compromise is reached and Greece was to exit or be kicked out of the eurozone, what does that look like?” said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.“But if we just use the debt markets as a reflection, it’s clear that the panic and the crisis hasn’t yet extended itself to some of those other peripheral countries (such as Spain and Portugal) that we saw in 2011.”Gold was also a good barometer of market concern over Greece: the April bullion contract dropped $20.60 to US$1,208.10, taking the gold sector down about 3.6%.The energy sector slipped 0.23% even as oil prices moved higher for a third consecutive day. The March crude contract in New York closed up 75 cents at US$53.53 a barrel.March copper was two cents lower at US$2.58 a pound but the base metals component moved up one per cent.Meanwhile, Restaurant Brands International Inc. (TSX:QSR), the company behind Burger King and the recently acquired Tim Hortons, posted a quarterly loss of US$514.2 million or $2.52 per diluted share, compared with a profit of $66.8 million or 19 cents per diluted share a year earlier. But revenue totalled $416.3 million, up from $265.2 million and its shares gained $3.90 or 8.1% to $52.15.Home renovation retailer Rona Inc. (TSX:RON) beat expectations as its adjusted profits rose to $17.3 million in the fourth quarter from $4.6 million a year ago, helped by six per cent growth in same-store retail sales. Its shares were ahead $1.01 or 7.8% at $13.93.Canadian Pacific (TSX:CP) was also a major gainer, up $7.83 to $239.68 after the railway and the Teamsters union agreed Monday to binding arbitration just hours before striking employees were to be legislated back to work. read more