Closing Bell Toronto stock market closes slightly higher amid Syrian jitters falling

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed slightly higher Wednesday as the Syrian civil war continued to cast a shadow over trading and investors wondered if the U.S. will end up leading a military strike against the country, which is accused of using poison gas against its own civilian population.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 12,757.81 +17.31 0.14%S&P 500 — 1,653.08 +13.31 0.81%Dow — 14,930.87 +96.91 0.56%Nasdaq — 3,649.04 +36.43 1.01%The S&P/TSX composite index was up 17.31 points to 12,757.81 led by gains in utilities and industrials.The Canadian dollar rose 0.34 of a cent to 95.31 cents US as the Bank of Canada said it was keeping its key rate unchanged at one%, where it’s been since September 2010 amid a tough recovery from the 2008 crash.Strong vehicle sales data helped U.S. indexes gain momentum throughout the day while investors weighed President Barack Obama’s effort to win support in Congress for a military strike on Syria.Obama said Tuesday that he’s confident Congress will authorize a military strike. Congress could vote as early as next week, after it returns from summer break. The Dow Jones industrials jumped 96.91 points to 14,930.87.General Motors said its sales rose 15% last month, while Chrysler and Ford each reported 12% gains. Toyota posted the biggest increase as sales rose nearly 23% since August of last year. GM stock jumped 4.9% while Ford gained 3.37%.The Nasdaq gained 36.43 points to 3,649.04 and the S&P 500 index added 13.31 points to 1,653.08.“I think that goes to show you that this market is resilient, which it’s been for awhile — the U.S. market especially,” said Allan Small, senior adviser at DWM Securities.“I think people are looking to put money to work all the time, where a few years ago, it might have been the opposite case — any little thing would result in traders taking their money and running.”Traders also took in some positive data on the health of the U.S. economy during August.The Federal Reserve said in its latest regional survey that the economy expanded at a modest to moderate pace in August.The Fed said in its so-called Beige Book that manufacturing expanded modestly, lending activity weakened somewhat while hiring held steady or increased modestly.Traders are anxious to see if the Fed decides later this month to start winding up its monthly US$85 billion of bond purchases.The beaten-down utilities sector led advancers, up 1.43% with Capital Power (TSX:CPX) ahead 45 cents to $20.90.The component, along with other interest rate sensitive sectors, has been hit hard ever since Fed chairman Ben Bernanke first mentioned the possibility of Fed tapering back in May, which has had the effect of pushing bond yields higher.Industrials also boosted the TSX and Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) rose $2.19 to $125.97.The tech sector advanced with smartphone maker BlackBerry (TSX:BB) ahead 53 cents or 4.93% to $11.28.Commodity prices headed lower but the metals and mining sector was slightly higher as December copper fell six cents to US$3.24 a pound, erasing most of Tuesday’s gain that followed strong manufacturing data from China and the U.S.The telecom sector was the leading decliner, down 0.57%, giving back some of the 4% surge registered Tuesday after U.S. telecom giant Verizon agreed to buy out the remaining stake in its mobile phone business from Vodafone in a massive, US$130-billion deal. At the same time, Verizon made it clear it wasn’t interested in entering the Canadian wireless market. Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) slipped 71 cents or 1.59% to $43.88 after running up 7% on Tuesday.October crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell $1.31 to US$107.23 and the energy sector was off 0.2%.The gold sector was off 0.16% as the December bullion contract lost $22 to US$1,390 an ounce.TOP STORIESMobilicity plans to transfer wireless users to Wind MobileBank of Canada holds rate, warning recovery is losing momentumSamsung unveils Galaxy Gear smartwatch, available Sept. 25Why real estate doomsayers continue to be wrongWHAT’S ON DECK THURSDAY ECONOMIC NEWSG20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia begins UNITED STATES8:15 a.m.ADP National Employment Report (August): Economists expect 180,000 jobs, down from last month 8:30 a.m.Weekly jobless claims: Economists expect 330,000 new claims Productivity (Q2): Economists expect 1.5% gain 10 a.m.Factory orders (July): Economists expect a decline of 3.4% Non-manufacturing ISM index (August): Economists expect a reading of 55, down from last month CORPORATE NEWSCANADANordion Inc Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 17¢ a share North West Company Inc Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 36¢ a share Patheon Inc Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 8¢ a share

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