|U.S. stocks rallied on the first trading day of the year after lawmakers passed a last minute deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” that had threatened the country’s economic recovery.|
The prospect of further central bank stimulus in the U.S. and Japan may also have lent weight to the recovery.
This renewed investor confidence sent the Dow up 308.41 points, or 2.35%, to 13,412.55 points while the Nasdaq soared 92.75 points, or 3.07%, to 3,112.26.
Likewise, the S&P 500 climbed 36.23 points, or 2.54%, to 1,462.42 points.
The last minute vote in favour of the legislation had removed months of uncertainty, giving investors certainty to buy and ignore Congress’ failure to tackle automatic spending cuts, which are set to go into effect on 1 March 2013.
Further support for the positive mood came from The Institute for Supply Management's monthly manufacturing index showed activity rebounded in December.
In Canadian corporate news, Petrobank Energy and Resources (TSE:PBG) fell over 90%, after it late Monday announced that its merger with its PetroBakken Energy (TSE:PBN) unit to form “New Petrobank”, was completed on December 31.
Through the merger, each share of Petrobank outstanding on the December 31 was effectively exchanged for 1.1051 shares of PetroBakken and one share of New Petrobank, which will own and operate Petrobank's existing heavy oil business.
The company noted that any trades in New Petrobank shares made on or after January 2 will not include the right to receive the PetroBakken shares to be distributed pursuant to the merger.
Globex Mining Enterprises (TSE:GMX) (OTCQX:GLBXF) and subsidiary Chibougamau Independent Mines Inc. (CIM) Wednesday said that a $1.2 million investment by Jack Stoch Geoconsultant Services Ltd. will ensure that CIM can trade on the TSX Venture Exchange.
CIM raised $1.4 million in "flow-through" units, noting that the TSX-Venture required it to have a minimum of roughly $1.2 million in working capital at listing.
Jack Stoch Geoconsultant Services, owned by Jack Stoch, president and CEO of Globex and CIM, has subscribed for "hard cash" units of CIM in that amount.
On the US corporate news front, shares of Zipcar Inc. (NASDAQ:ZIP) shot up over 48% Wednesday afternoon, after Avis Budget Group (NASDAQ:CAR) announced it will buy the car-sharing company for $500 million in cash.
Under the terms of the deal, Avis will pay $12.25 per Zipcar share, a 49% premium to the company’s Monday close.
Meanwhile, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) saw its shares rise 5%, after J.P. Morgan upgraded its price target on the stock to $35 from $29.
Synergy Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SGYP) saw its shares soar over 16 per cent Wednesday, after reporting positive results from phase IIb/III studies of its oral treatment for constipation.
The company said plecanatide, its oral drug for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC), was “well tolerated” and met the primary and key secondary endpoints of the clinical study. Full results will be presented at a major scientific meeting this year, it added.
Turning to the Canadian junior resource sector, Petrodorado Energy Ltd. (CVE:PDQ) Wednesday said it has seen “exploratory success” at its Kamal-1X well in the Llanos Basin of Colombia, and expects to spud the second drilling location this month.
In an update on its operations at the CPO-5 and Talora Blocks in Colombia, the company said it anticipates the spudding of the Loto-1 well in mid-January.
Petrodorado, which has a 30-per-cent non-operated working interest in the CPO-5 block, said the area is currently under phase one of a two-phase exploration program.
With a total of five committed exploration wells, the operator and Petrodorado said they have identified “multiple prospects” for 3D and 2D seismic.
African Queen Mines (CVE:AQ) Wednesday said that initial assay results from its Odundu gold project in Kenya have shown a near-surface, body of gold-bearing mineralization.
The company said initial trenching and diamond drill results indicate a zone of “extensive, low-grade near-surface gold mineralization”, which is continuous over “significant thicknesses”. It added that the best intersections obtained so far include 1.03 grams per tonne (g/t) gold over 26.35 metres and 1.08 g/t gold over 11.0 metres, in holes OD3 and OD4, respectively.
On the OTC in the U.S., shares of drug maker NanoViricides (OTCBB:NNVC) shot up 6.25% Wednesday, after the company hired interior design company Id3A as the architect for its laboratory and cGMP pilot production facility project.
The facility is being designed to produce sufficient quantities of the drugs needed for human clinical trials testing various nanoviricide drug candidates as they advance into the clinical pipeline.
Titan Pharmaceuticals (OTCBB:TTNP) saw its shares hiked up over 14% Wednesday, after the FDA granted its pain killer dependence treatment, Probuphine, priority review designation.
The company said the FDA has also accepted for review its new drug application (NDA) for Probuphine - an implant placed under the skin to be used in the treatment of opioid dependence in adult patients.
Development stage biopharmaceutical company Soligenix (OTCQB:SNGX) Wednesday said that the FDA has granted orphan drug designation to its radiation therapy, OrbeShield.
Shares rose 2.5% after the company said in addition to a seven year term of market exclusivity for OrbeShield upon final approval, the FDA’s orphan drug designation also provides leverage to a wide range of financial and regulatory benefits.
OrbeShield is being developed for the treatment of gastrointestinal acute radiation syndrome, which occurs after toxic radiation exposure and involves several organ systems, notably the bone marrow, the gastrointestinal tract and later, the lungs.
Elsewhere U.S. news, ImmunoCellular Therapeutics (AMEX:IMUC) Wednesday announced the appointment of Gary S. Titus to its board of directors, sending shares up over five per cent.
Shares of the company were higher by 10 cents as at about 1:45 p.m. EDT, trading at $2.02.
Titus, who is currently the senior VP and CFO of SciClone Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SCLN), has in excess of 20 years of business experience in the healthcare and biopharmaceutical industries.
European markets also rallied on news of a fiscal cliff deal in the U.S., and didn’t seem fazed by Markit’s Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for December - which was revised down to 46.1 from an earlier preliminary reading of 46.3. The index has been below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction since August 2011.
European markets closed sharply higher last night with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 was up 2.37% while Britain's FTSE 100 rose 2.20% and Germany's DAX advanced 2.19%.
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