The stock market was little changed on Thursday, with investors assessing the situation after the Federal Reserve's pronouncement on interest rates yesterday afternoon. For the most part, major market benchmarks ignored concerns about the ongoing conflict in Iraq, but they also remained cautious about expecting too much from a market that has been hitting new all-time highs on a consistent basis for more than a year without any substantial correction. Still, pockets of strength abounded in the market, with Silvercorp Metals (NYSE:SVM), Enbridge Energy Partners (NYSE:EEP), and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) among the best performers today.
Silvercorp Metals jumped 12%, leading just about the entire precious-metals complex higher. Gold prices soared more than $40 per ounce to climb above the $1,300 mark, and silver prices gained almost $1 per ounce to roughly $20.85. The Fed's rate strategy weakened the U.S. dollar, and a weak currency often leads to strength in gold and silver. The plunge in silver prices last year was highly problematic for Silvercorp's overall profitability, but investors hope the silver market can flatten out and even climb. As long as Silvercorp can put some of its production challenges behind it, the stock has more than ample profit potential to justify its modest valuation even after today's gain.
Enbridge Energy Partners rose 13% as the master limited partnership announced a deal to sell a portion of its ownership interest in the Midcoast Operating limited partnership for $350 million. The move should serve the dual purpose of allowing Enbridge to retain its interest in the midstream natural-gas arena while also collecting additional cash to invest in a prospective new pipeline for transporting liquids. The move is just the latest in a series of similar strategies across the energy industry, as companies seek to focus on their best prospects and to divest noncore assets as appropriate to generate much-needed liquid capital.
BlackBerry climbed 10% as the embattled smartphone maker reported a narrower loss in its fiscal first quarter than investors had expected. Sales of BlackBerry devices rose during the quarter, and even though overall revenue plunged almost 70%, CEO John Chen remains confident about the direction of BlackBerry's turnaround. With substantial improvement in BlackBerry's cost structure, the company's next step is to find ways to use its expertise in secure-mobile technology to grow and carve out a niche area of strength.
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