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TSX lower amid mixed earnings news, vote to raise U.S. debt ceiling
[January 23, 2013]

TSX lower amid mixed earnings news, vote to raise U.S. debt ceiling

(Canadian Press DataFile Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By Malcolm Morrison TORONTO _ The Toronto stock market was little changed Wednesday as investors looked to another day of mixed earnings reports and a vote that raised the U.S. debt ceiling.

The S&P/TSX composite index declined 14.7 points to 12,8090.93 while the TSX Venture Exchange edged 0.55 of a point lower to 1,241.62.

The Canadian dollar dropped 0.65 of a cent to 100.09 cents US after the Bank of Canada said economic growth has been weaker than expected and indicated that the anticipated need to raise rates is now less imminent. The bank's key overnight lending rate remained unchanged at one per cent, as expected.

The change in the guidance from last month likely means the central bank won't move to tighten borrowing costs until some time in 2014 or until it has more compelling evidence the Canadian economy is ready to re-engage.

U.S. indexes were mainly higher amid solid reports from Google Inc. and IBM Corp. with the Dow Jones industrials up 69.89 points to 13,782.1. The Nasdaq rose 9.39 points to 3,152.57 while the S&P 500 index slipped 1.58 points to 1,494.14.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday to permit the government to borrow enough money to avoid a first-time default for at least four months.

Republicans backed away from their previous demand that any increase in the government's borrowing cap be paired with an equivalent level of spending cuts, a condition that had cast a cloud of uncertainty over markets.

The measure now goes to the Senate for a vote in the next few days.

In Toronto, Celestica (TSX:CLS) reported a sharp drop in fourth-quarter profits as the electronics manufacturer was hit by restructuring and other charges and lower revenue as it wound down work for Research In Motion. Its shares dipped 27 cents to $8.47 even as president and chief executive officer Craig Muhlhauser assured analysts there is a plan to improve profit this year.

In the U.S., McDonald's reported Wednesday that quarterly earnings were US$1.38 a share, five cents better than analysts' forecasts. Revenue of US$6.95 billion beat projections of $6.889 billion but its shares were off 62 cents to US$93.57 as the world's biggest hamburger chain also warned that a key sales figure is expected to drop this month.

After the close Tuesday, IBM handed in results that beat for earnings and revenue. Earnings per share for the quarter were $5.39, versus the $5.25 that analysts expected. Revenue came in at $29.3 billion against the $29.09 billion expected and IBM shares gained 5.46 per cent to $206.78.

Google's fourth-quarter earnings rose seven per cent to nearly $2.9 billion, or $8.62 cents per share. If not for the costs of employee stock compensation and certain other accounting items, Google said it would have earned $10.65 per share, which exceeded estimates of $10.54. Revenue surged 36 per cent to $14.4 billion and its stock ran ahead 6.3 per cent to $747.15.

The results added increasing optimism about fourth-quarter earnings.

"So far, things are looking pretty good," said Luciano Orengo, portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

"One hundred companies out 498 on the S&P 500 have reported, about 20 per cent or so and 77 per cent of them have come up with positive earnings surprises, versus 22 with negative (which is) better than the historical average." A major decliner in New York was luxury handbag seller Coach Inc. Its shares plunged 15.77 per cent after it said a challenging economy and heavy price cutting by competitors weighed on its fiscal second-quarter results. Net income was $352.7 million, or $1.23 per share, while net sales rose four per cent to $1.5 billion. The results were short of expectations for earnings of $1.28 per share on revenue of $1.6 billion.

Traders will take in earnings from Apple Inc. after the close on Wednesday.

The gold sector led TSX decliners, down 1.4 per cent while February bullion on the New York Mercantile Exchange ticked $6.50 lower to US$1,686.70 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) faded 51 cents to C$37.52 while Iamgold (TSX:IMG) dropped 12 per cent to $9.49, a day after the Toronto-based miner said it has reduced exploration activity in Mali as a precaution due to unrest in the west African country.

The base metals component fell 0.4 per cent as March copper was down two cents at US$3.68 a pound. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) was down 36 cents to C$20.56.

Retail stocks led the consumer staples component lower as Quebec-based convenience store owner Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B) gave back 68 cents to $48.30.

On Tuesday, supermarket chain Metro Inc. said it was selling 10 million class B subordinate voting shares in Couche-Tard, nearly half its holdings in the company, to three Canadian banks for $479 million.

The energy sector was slightly higher with the March crude contract down 82 cents to US$95.86 a barrel. Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) rose 37 cents to C$44.38. The shares 7.2 per cent of Couch-Tard stock.

The telecom sector also provided lift with BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) ahead 41 cents to $64.97.

(c) 2013 The Canadian Press

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