U.S. markets up for sixth consecutive week, Aug. 13-17

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 posted gains for the sixth consecutive week, buoyed by comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she supported the European Central Bank’s efforts to fight debt, and...

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 posted gains for the sixth consecutive week, buoyed by comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she supported the European Central Bank’s efforts to fight debt, and better-than-expected U.S. data on consumer sentiment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 67.25 points or 0.51% to close at 13,275.20, while the S&P 500 index rose 12.29 points or 0.90% to 1,418.16 — within reach of the index’s April high of 1,419.04. The Philadelphia Gold and Silver index climbed 1.64 points or 1.04% to finish the Aug. 13-17 trading week at 160.01.

Agrium advanced US$2.66 per share to US$99.89 after the board unanimously determined that a spinoff of its retail operations was not in the best interests of shareholders. According to media reports, one of Agrium’s shareholders, hedge fund Jana Partners, has been pressuring the fertilizer group to split the company into separate retail and wholesale businesses. The retail arm makes up about 30% of the company’s earnings. Agrium’s share price has risen about 40% this year.

Shares of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan rose 70¢ to close at US$44.14. PotashCorp announced that the over supplied potash market is forcing it to temporarily shut down its Lanigan mine in Saskatchewan from Sept. 15 to Oct. 13. Potash inventories in North America were 30% above the five-year average in the month of July.

UR-Energy shares posted the second largest percentage gain of the week, jumping 21.2% to US$1.14 after the company received the final environmental impact statement from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for its flagship Lost Creek project. The BLM chose as its preferred alternative the drying of yellowcake on site, which involves building a drying-packaging facility inside the processing plant. With this method, the company can cut shipments from site, cause fewer disturbances to wildlife and better protect air quality.

On the negative side of the ledger, Molycorp’s decision to raise US$450 million in convertible senior notes and common equity sent its shares plunging US$3.06 to US$9.84 apiece and making it the third most actively traded stock of the week. Of the US$450 million, US$150 million will be common stock and US$300 million will be senior notes due 2017. The company, which is developing its Mountain Pass rare earths mine in California, said the money will be used for operating expenses, working capital, capital expenditures and other cash requirements for 2012 and 2013.

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