U.S. and Canadian stock markets opened mostly lower, with a weaker-than-expected reading on U.S. gross domestic product in the first quarter undermining confidence among traders who were already in the mood for some profit-taking after this week's run-up in equity values.
In early trading, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 44 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 12,285; the S&P 500 was down 3 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 1,582; and the Dow Jones industrial average was flat.
Gold was up about $8 at $1,470, but economically sensitive commodities were lower, with copper futures down 0.7 per cent and oil down 0.5 per cent.
The GDP report was the first reading on the three-month period, and while still subject to several revisions in the weeks ahead, the 2.5 per cent growth that was reported missed economists' expectations for 3.0 per cent expansion. Still, it was considerable improvement from growth of 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter. And much of the weakness seen in the first quarter was due to a drop in government spending - especially in defence - while consumer spending saw its biggest increase in two years.
Nevertheless, stocks have seen pretty consistent gains over the last few sessions, and traders are being tempted to take some profits as the week wraps up.
In other economic news today, the Reuter's/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for April came in at 76.4, stronger than the 73.0 economists had expected.
Meanwhile, more first-quarter earnings are pouring out. Of the companies within the S&P 500 that already reported results prior to today, 74 per cent exceeded profit projections for the first quarter, according to Bloomberg. But, disappointingly, 55 per cent missed sales estimates - a trend that has worsened considerably since the fourth quarter.
Here's a look at some of the earnings and other stocks moving on news today:
TransCanada Corp. said the Keystone XL pipeline won't be in service until the second half of 2015 and warned the project's $5.3-billion cost estimate will increase depending on the timing of the permit. It also reported adjusted profit of 52 cents per share, 2 cents below the consensus estimate. Shares opened down 1 per cent.
J.C. Penney shares are up 5 per cent after hedge fund manager George Soros late Thursday disclosed a significant stake in the retailer of 7.9 per cent.
Brookfield Office Properties Inc. reported it had 33 cents (U.S.) per share of funds from operations in its latest quarter, 3 cents ahead of Street forecasts. Shares opened up 0.1 per cent.
Chevron Corp. reported that net income fell to $3.18 per share in its latest quarter, better than the $3.09 per share expected by analysts. Shares are up 0.8 per cent.
Amazon.com Inc. shares are down 2.5 per cent after the company's guidance for second-quarter earnings came in below analysts' forecasts.
Yahoo Inc. chairman Fred Amoroso late Thursday resigned from the Internet company's board and will be replaced be Maynard Webb until a new chairman is found. Shares opened nearly unchanged.
Starbucks Corp. late Thursday reported first-quarter results that exceeded analysts' estimates on both earnings and revenues, and it also raised its full-year earnings guidance. But its shares opened down 0.2 per cent.