Markets mixed as Europes economy improves

The Toronto stock market inched lower on Wednesday as oil prices pulled back from recent gains and the European economy showed improvement.The S&P/TSX composite index was down 4.32 points to 12,637.87 near midday.The Canadian dollar was up 0.21 of a cent to 96.89 cents US.The move on the markets came as the European Union proclaimed an end to its longest recession. The 17 countries that use the euro saw economic output grow by 0.3 per cent in the second quarter, the EU statistics office reported Wednesday. It was the first growth recorded since late 2011.Michael Smedley, portfolio manager at Morgan, Meighen, suggested Europe’s improved economic prospects should have a positive effect on the outlook for its economy for the coming months.“You get a very slight show of confidence that has been absent for so long, the market will tend to feed off that a bit,” he said. “So you should get a continuation of moderate improvement in the overall economic state in Europe.”On Wall Street, the Dow fell 83.19 points to 15,367.82, the Nasdaq dropped 9.82 points to 3,674.63 and the S&P 500 slid 5.85 points to 1,688.31.In commodities, the September crude contract dropped 95 cents to US$105.88 a barrel. Gold stocks were up 2.6 per cent as December gold bullion rose $11.40 to US$1,331.90 an ounce. September copper increased one cent to US$3.33 a pound.Shares of Canada’s biggest wireless companies remained in the spotlight with attention focused on whether U.S. telecom giant Verizon could set up shop in this country. Industry Minister James Moore posted a tersely worded letter on his website on Tuesday in response to criticism from a board member of BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE), the parent company of Bell.“I think Canadians know very well what is at stake and they know dishonest attempts to skew debates via misleading campaigns when they see them,” Moore’s letter said.The TSX telecom sector was down 0.6 per cent with BCE shares two cents higher at $41.82.Shares of Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU) were down more than 3.5 per cent, or $2.48, to $69.47 after it unveiled plans to reorganize its Ontario grocery retail network. It says 15 stores will be affected, with an unspecified number closed and the others rebranded to the Food Basics discount banner.As of the end of 2012, it had about 264 Ontario stores under the Metro and Food Basics banners. Metro also agreed to operate Target’s in-store pharmacies in Quebec where the U.S. retailer is expected to open about 25 stores in the province this fall.Metro also reported its third-quarter profits were $149.8 million, increasing about four per cent from $144.4 million the same time last year. Sales dropped nearly one per cent to $3.57 billion.Home improvement retailer Rona Inc. (TSX:RON) posted a second-quarter loss of $38.7 million from continuing operations in the second quarter, reversing a profit in the same period last year, as it recognized restructuring costs and impairment charges related to its recovery plan.Sales for the quarter were also down, falling to $1.25 billion from $1.3 billion — missing analyst estimates. Rona shares fell 36 cents to $10.90.B2Gold Corp. (TSX:BTO) posted a big jump in second-quarter earnings on a royalty sale as well as increased revenues. The company earned $33.1 million, or five cents per share, up from $11.9 million, or three cents per share as gold revenue rose to $122.6 million from $57.3 million a year ago. Shares rose three per cent to $3.22.In the U.S., department store stocks also fell after Macy’s reported disappointing earnings for the second quarter and cut its forecast for the year. The company, which operates its namesake stores and Bloomingdales, dropped $2.07, or 4.3 per cent, to $46.43 after its profit fell short of analysts’ estimates. Macy’s blamed shoppers’ reluctance to spend for a slip in sales.Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) rose for a third day, gaining $7.62 to $497.20. Apple jumped 4.75 per cent Tuesday after activist investor Carl Icahn said he thinks Apple should be doing more to revive its stock price. Icahn also said he had a large, but unspecified stake, in the company.Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.02 per cent to 6,597.26. Germany’s DAX was 0.03 per cent lower at 8,412.67. France’s CAC-40 rose 0.6 per cent to 4,117.02.Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 1.3 per cent to close at 14,050.16. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.6 per cent to 1,923.91. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was nearly unchanged at 5,157.40.