Stocks Marginally Higher as Health-Care Again Soars

BlackBerry, Valeant in Focus

Equity markets in Toronto opened higher on Wednesday, boosted by gains among financial stocks and energy companies and a jump in shares of BlackBerry after it announced an autonomous driving deal with China’s Baidu Inc.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 24.55 points to begin Wednesday at 16,334.54

The Canadian dollar slid 0.16 cents to 79.81 cents U.S.

BlackBerry, once known as Research in Motion, climbed $1.08, or 7.2%, to $16.10.

A U.S. court on Tuesday asked Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc and activist investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square to appear for a hearing to discuss the proposed settlement in an insider trading lawsuit.

Valeant shares gained $1.28, or 4.7%, to $28.52.

Drinks bottler Refresco is willing to offer remedies to concerns voiced by Britain's Competition and Markets Authority over the Dutch company's $1.25-billion acquisition of Cott Corp's bottling activities.

Cott shares poked ahead 10 cents to $20.89.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange vaulted 11.6 points, or 1.3%, to open Wednesday at 883.64

Seven of the 12 TSX subgroups were higher, while health-care stocks improved 3.8%, while energy and information technology each gathered 0.8%

The five laggards were led by materials, down 0.7%, gold, off 0.5%, and telecoms, skidding 0.4%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks rose to all-time highs on Wednesday as a gain in chip stocks propelled the tech sector higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average leaped 66.72 points to begin Wednesday’s session at 24,890.93

The S&P 500 improved 22.18 points to 2,695.79, with tech rising 0.9%. The index also broke above 2,700 for the first time.

The NASDAQ composite index hiked 37.37 points to 7,044.27, with Advanced Micro Devices surging more than 6% on the back of a report that points out a security flaw in Intel processors.

The report by The Register said the issue will require a significant security update of Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems to work around it.

Nvidia's stock climbed 2.6%, following AMD's gains. Intel shares, meanwhile, declined more than 2%.

In economic news, the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index hit 59.7% in December, while construction spending rose 0.8% in November. The Federal Reserve is also scheduled to release a summary of its December meeting.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note were unchanged, keeping yields at Tuesday’s 2.46%.

Oil prices charged ahead 86 cents a barrel to $61.23 U.S.

Gold prices gained $1.60 to $1,317.70 U.S. an ounce.