North American stocks rose modestly at the start of trading on Thursday, following a flurry of mixed economic reports and quarterly earnings.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48 points or 0.4 per cent, to 12,805. The broader S&P 500 rose 4 points or 0.3 per cent, to 1330. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index rose 59 points or 0.5 per cent, to 12,598.
The gains build on Wednesday’s sharp turnaround, when the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would keep interest rates low until at least late 2014, extending an earlier commitment to low rates by at least 18 months.
The Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims for the period ended last week rose to 377,000, slightly above expectations. However, durable goods orders for December rose 3 per cent, higher than the 2 per cent gain that economists had been expecting.
Neflix Inc. surged 23.9 per cent after the DVD-rental and movie-streaming company reported upbeat quarterly results after markets closed on Wednesday. Caterpillar Inc. rose 4.4 per cent after its fourth quarter earnings rose 60 per cent over last year, topping expectations.
However, AT&T Inc. fell 2.4 per cent after it reported an enormous $6.7-billion (U.S.) loss in the fourth quarter, largely due to charges related to its failed T-Mobile USA merger and pension-related costs.
Among Canadian stocks, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. rose 0.7 per cent after its fourth quarter earnings rose to 78 cents a share from 56 cents last year, but missing expectations. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. rose 1.2 per cent after its earnings rose 19 per cent.