HP, BlackBerry, Wal-Mart sink as markets retreat over Libyan crisis

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TORONTO/NEW YORK - Global giants sank as stock markets tumbled in Toronto and New York Tuesday as oil prices surged amid worries over continuing unrest in Libya.

A member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Libya daily produces over 1.7 million barrels of oil. Oil for March delivery jumped 8.6 percent to $93.57 a barrel in New York - the highest price in more than two years.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE), the composite index retreated 159.43 points to slip below 14,000 and closed at 13,963.68 points.

Among the major losers were the world’s biggest fertilizer producer Potash Corp. which sank over 6.1 percent to close at $55.57 percent.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) lost 3.35 percent to close at $66.61 despite Canada’s National Bank upgrading its rating.

Bombardier, the world’s biggest metro and civilian aircraft makers, also dived 4.6 percent to close at $6.27.

The country’s top Bank of Scotia too slipped almost two percent to close at $59.52.

The metals and mining sector retreated 4.9 percent on the world’s biggest mining stock exchange.

Only energy and gold stocks benefited from the Libyan unrest, with the country’s biggest oil company Imperial Oil

rising 3.5 percent to $49.80. Canadian Natural Resources, Encana Corp., Barrick Gold and Goldcorp all posted gains in the region of one percent.

The Canadian dollar, which has remained above parity with the US greenback, also retreated 0.73 cents to close at 101 cents US.

On Wall Street, the Dow suffered its biggest fall since November to slip 178.46 points - over 200 points during the scary final hour alone - and close at 12,212.80. The S&P 500 also lost 27.57 points to close at 1,315.44.

Apart from oil worries, the battering taken by computer major Hewlett-Packard (HP) and retail giant Wal-Mart contributed to market slide.

HP shares sank 12 percent to $42.47 after the computer giant reported less-than-bright outlook for its current quarter despite posting a first quarter profit of $2.6 billion or $1.17 per share.

Wal-Mart also slipped 4 percent after the world’s biggest retailer reported disappointing sales in the US market even as its four-quarter profits jumped 27 percent on its strong global performance.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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