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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. This week, the state of Delaware, which has made corporate governance its regional cuisine, approved a new form of incorporation, the B-corp, or benefit corporation. These are companies explicitly charged with a dual mission: to earn profits for shareholders, the traditional business goal, and also to pursue the social good in other ways, ranging from protecting employees to safeguarding the environment – even if these goals come at the cost of short-term financial gain. (Allison Joyce/REUTERS)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. This week, the state of Delaware, which has made corporate governance its regional cuisine, approved a new form of incorporation, the B-corp, or benefit corporation. These are companies explicitly charged with a dual mission: to earn profits for shareholders, the traditional business goal, and also to pursue the social good in other ways, ranging from protecting employees to safeguarding the environment – even if these goals come at the cost of short-term financial gain. (Allison Joyce/REUTERS)

At the open: Stocks mixed, Apple shines Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was slightly lower Wednesday amid a heavy slate of generally positive North American earnings reports and European data that suggested the euro zone’s economy is growing again.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 10.42 points to 12,734.96 with the mining index a drag as other data showed a deepening slowdown in China’s manufacturing sector.

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The Canadian dollar was up 0.07 of a cent to 97.3 cents US.

U.S. indexes were mixed in the wake of strong earnings reports from the likes of Apple Inc. and Ford Motor Co.

But a weak report from heavy equipment maker Caterpillar helped push the Dow Jones industrials down 6.47 points to 15,561.27, the Nasdaq ran up 19.24 points to 3,598.52 and the S&P 500 index climbed 1.12 points to 1,693.51.

Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) had $255 million or 34 cents per share in operating earnings and a $179-million net profit in the second quarter. The operating earnings were 14 cents below a consensus estimate of 48 cents and Cenovus also said its 2013 oilsands operating costs this year will be higher than forecast in its previous guidance and its shares fell $1.38 or 4.29 per cent to $30.86.

Natural gas producer Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) had $730 million or 99 cents per share of net earnings and $247 million in operating earnings or 34 cents per share in the second quarter. The operating earnings were up from $198 million or 27 cents per share a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were on average expecting 19 cents per share in operating earnings and its shares rose 25 cents to $18.38.

Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) shares were ahead 81 cents to $42.04 as the company reported $497 million in quarterly adjusted net income, a four per cent increase from last year and better than analysts’ consensus estimate of $491.95 million.

Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L) made $178 million in net earnings in the second quarter, up from $156 million in the same period a year ago. The grocer’s basic net earnings per common share rose 14.5 per cent in the quarter to 63 cents, about five cents per share better than a consensus estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters and its shares advanced 70 cents to $48.64.

Also, Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) posted net income for the second-quarter of $252 million, or $1.43 per diluted share, versus $103 million, or 60 cents per share, a year earlier. The earnings missed estimates by six cents a share and its stock dipped 31 cents to $129.87.

In the U.S., Ford Motor Co. earned $1.2 billion or 30 cents a share in the second quarter as U.S. pickup truck demand and growing sales in China offset losses in Europe. Ex-items, the company earned 45 cents per share, beating estimates of 37 cents and its shares ran ahead 48 cents to US$17.42.

Quarterly earnings at Caterpillar fell 43 per cent $960 million, or $1.45 per share as dealers cut inventories more than the company expected. The company also cut its profit and revenue outlook for the year. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.69 per share and its shares dropped $1.66 to $83.86.

After the close Tuesday, Apple Inc. posted quarterly earnings of $6.9 billion, or $7.47 per share, in its fiscal third quarter, a 22 per cent drop from a year ago. The earnings topped the average analyst estimate of $7.31 per share and its shares were ahead $18.80 or 4.49 per cent to $437.79.

Revenue totalled $35.3 billion versus $35 billion a year ago. Analysts had projected that revenue would be unchanged from a year ago.

The results mark the second straight quarter that Apple’s earnings have fallen from the previous year after a decade of steadily rising profits. Its shares were up five per cent in pre-market trading in New York.

In other corporate developments, Michael Dell has raised a privatization bid for the computer company he founded to $13.75 per share while the company meeting has been delayed until Aug. 2. He called it the best and final proposal.

The TSX base metals sector fell 1.5 per cent amid weak Chinese manufacturing data while metal prices advanced with September copper up one cent to US$3.21 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) fell 50 cents to C$23.87.

The gold sector was down 1.7 per cent while August bullion gained $1.30 to US$1,336 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) faded 73 cents to C$29.96.

The energy sector was down 0.4 per cent and oil headed lower while traders awaited the latest U.S. inventory figures.

The September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was down 69 cents to US$106.54 a barrel.

Meanwhile, analysts expected a decline in crude oil inventories of 2.6 million barrels for the week ended July 19. That would bring the four-week drop to nearly 30 million barrels.

A HSBC survey showed China’s manufacturing at an 11-month low this month. HSBC said the preliminary version of its monthly purchasing managers index declined to 47.7 this month from June’s 48.2 on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 show a contraction in activity.

European bourses advanced after financial information company Markit said a broad gauge of economic activity rose for a fourth month in a row. Its monthly purchasing managers’ index for the 17-country eurozone rose to 50.4 points in July from 48.7 the previous month. Anything above 50 indicates an expansion.

London’s FTSE 100 index was up 0.8 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX gained 1.08 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 was ahead 1.2 per cent.

Earlier during the Asian session, the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China closed 0.5 per cent lower, Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 0.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.2 per cent while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.4 per cent.

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