Toronto gains midday
(Baystreet Stock Market Update (Canada) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) China data spurs rally
The Toronto stock market was higher Thursday as resource stocks advanced on a further indication that China is digging itself out of a slump while investors punished Apple Inc. for a disappointing earnings report and outlook.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index picked up 56.73 points to pause for lunch at 12,850.78
The Canadian dollar fell 0.37 cents to 99.72 cents U.S., setting up what could be its first close below parity with the American currency since mid-November.
The negative sentiment concerning Apple (see below) spread to rival Research In Motion, which was off 25 cents, or 1.5%, to $17.05.
But the stock has run up sharply ahead of RIM's unveiling of the new BlackBerry 10 product line Jan. 30, rising more than $4 since the beginning of January.
The energy sector gained and Canadian Natural Resources gained 46 cents to $30.64.
Financials were also positive as Manulife Financial climbed 18 cents to $14.85.
However, copper prices were unchanged at $3.68 U.S. a pound. The base metals sector rose as Teck Resources was ahead 49 cents to $38.01.
Rail stocks were also higher with Canadian Pacific Railway ahead $1.22 to $112.36.
In the gold sector, Barrick Gold Corp. faded 49 cents to $33.60.
In other corporate news, Agrium Inc. says its preliminary estimates show fourth-quarter earnings were above its previous guidance. The Calgary-based fertilizer producer says it earned slightly more than $2 per diluted share, excluding certain items. The guidance had been for between $1.50 to $1.90 per share and its shares gained $4.17 to $114.82.
A group led by KingSett Capital says it will continue to build its stake in Primaris Retail Real Estate Investment Trust, a shopping mall operator that it has been attempting to take over.
Primaris has received a bid of $28 per unit in cash and equity from H&R Real Estate Investment Trust $2 per unit more than the all-cash offer from KingSett and its allies. Primaris units were up 32 cents to $27.22.
There was cheerful news from the world's second-biggest economy as China's manufacturing crept higher in January to the fastest pace in two years.
A preliminary version of HSBC's monthly purchasing managers' index rose for the fifth month in a row to 51.9 in January from 51.5 in December. Readings above 50 on the 100-point scale indicate an expansion.
The report is further evidence that China's economy is undergoing a modest recovery from a downturn sparked by the 2008 world financial crisis.
The Chinese data helped push oil prices higher.
The TSX Venture Exchange gave back 4.03 points, however, to 1,237.50
All but four of the 14 Toronto subgroups remained higher by midday, led by information technology, zooming 2.2%, health-care, 1.1% more robust, and industrials, taking on 0.8%.
The four laggards were weighed by gold, off 1%, utilities, sliding 0.3%, and materials, down 0.2%
U.S. stocks were mixed early Thursday as investors focused on the latest corporate results, including a less-than-stellar report from tech behemoth Apple.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average leaped 79.20 points to greet noon at 13,858.50
The S&P 500 gained 5.31 points to 1,500.12, surmounting the 1,500 level for the first time since 2007. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.64 points to 3,149.03
Apple shares fell nearly 11% after the company said sales in the current quarter would come in below analysts' expectations, even though earnings in the most recent quarter rose to a record $13.1 billion U.S.
The stock has lost more than a quarter of its value in the past four months amid worries demand for the iPhone may be waning as lower-cost smartphones gain market share.
Before the market opened, 3M said profits rose 4.4% in the fourth quarter, driven by record sales. The company, which makes everything from tape to touchscreen displays, reaffirmed its outlook for earnings this year.
Shares of Nokia slumped after the company said its board will propose that no dividend payments be made for 2012. The Finnish phone maker reported fourth-quarter earnings were unchanged from last year at six cents U.S. per share.
Xerox shares rose after the company reported results that were in line with expectations.
Netflix shares surged nearly 40% after the online-video-rental company surprised investors by reporting a fourth-quarter profit late Wednesday.
Still to come, Microsoft, AT&T and Starbucks report after the bell.
Overall, S&P 500 companies are expected to report earnings growth of 4.3% for the last three months of 2012, according to S&P Capital IQ. Of the 112 companies that have reported so far, 75 have beaten analysts' expectations.
In economic news, the U.S. government said first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 last week to 330,000.
The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.5% in December, raising hopes for a sustained rebound in U.S. economic growth.
Prices on the 10-year U.S. Treasury slid, upping yields to 1.86% from Wednesday's 1.83%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices grew $1.37 to $96.60 U.S. a barrel.
Gold prices fell back $12.90 to $1,673.80 U.S. an ounce.
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