TSX Closes Higher; Barrick Gold and Blackberry Stories of the Day


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Canada's largest stock market, the Toronto Stock Exchange, Wednesday surged 145 led by Metals and Mining along with Energy Shares. Most sectors were higher but Info Tech, led by Blackberry bucked the trend.

Stock stories of the day involved Barrick Gold (ABX.TO, ABX) after a serious management re-shuffle and Blackberry (BBRY, BB.TO), which faces increased competition in the Enterprise client space from two giants, Apple and IBM, combined.

There were conflicting stories out there in the market Wednesday afternoon on the prospect of Barrick and Newmont Mining ( NEM ) reviving recently failed merger talks.

John Thornton, the chairman of Barrick, Wednesday told The Wall Street Journal that restarting merger talks with rival Newmont is, "as of now, not on our mind" as he played down talk that surprise management changes announced earlier today were meant to pave the way for renewed talks between the world's two largest gold miners. According to The WSJ, Thornton also said his company is now less inclined to sell its 64% stake in African Barrick Gold than two years ago when it first tried to sell the London-listed company.

Reuters cited Thornton as telling it that Barrick has no plans to appoint a new chief executive. According to Reuters, Thornton also said that Barrick remained open to a tie-up with U.S. gold producer Newmont, but that the two companies were not in talks currently.

Barrick early Wednesday surprised the market by unveiling plans to shuffle its management structure in a shakeup that includes the resignation of Jamie Sokalsky from the president and CEO posts and the creation of two co-president roles with overall responsibility for execution of the mining company's strategic priorities and operating plans. Sokalsky will be stepping down effective Sept. 15, 2014, the company said, noting in the interim, Sokalsky will assist in facilitating a smooth transition to the new leadership structure.

On Sokalksy, BNN TV noted he has been around in a management position, formerly CFO at the troubled miner, for some time, as Barrick's stock has stumbled. It noted Sokalsky hadn't been CEO for long and was there largely to oversee a "repair job" involving the sale of underperforming assets and re-focus the company on around six mines. BNN raised the idea that maybe Barrick wasn't naming a new CEO yet so that it can resume merger talks with Newmont. BNN cited Credit Suisse as saying that a merger with Newmont remains on the table.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry (BBRY, BB.TO) was down more than 11% in late TSX trade Wednesday on news of an IBM and Apple partnership to develop mobile enterprise apps, a move that could increase the competitive pressure on the embattled Canadian telco, which offers a platform for enterprise.

The news prompted a wide range reports and analysis through the day - including recent ones from the Motley Fool blog asking "Does the Apple/IBM Deal Mean The End of Blackberry"; Reuters saying "Apple-IBM deal dents Blackberry's prospects, slams stock"; CNNMoney.com asking "Did Apple and IBM just kill Blackberry?"; and "Is the Apple-IBM Union a Death Knell For Blackberry?".

On a more positive note, the TechCrunch sited reported BlackBerry is trying to build up some steam for its upcoming BlackBerry OS 10.3 launch, and for its new BlackBerry Passport hardware, and today that meant a new feature reveal. The company detailed BlackBerry Assistant on its official blog today, and the feature looks unsurprisingly like Siri and Cortana for iOS and Windows Phone respectively, it said.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

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