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In this Tuesday, March 19, 2013, photo, traders Andrew Silverman, left, and Daniel Ryan work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP)
In this Tuesday, March 19, 2013, photo, traders Andrew Silverman, left, and Daniel Ryan work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP)

Inside the Market

At the open: TSX edges higher but Dow drops on weak IBM earnings Add to ...

The TSX and S&P 500 opened higher, as investors did a bit of bargain hunting after the benchmark U.S. index's 3-per-cent decline this week. But the Dow Jones industrial average opened lower, weighed down by a 6-per-cent drop in shares of IBM after a less-than-favourable earnings report.

In early trading, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 7 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 12,003; the S&P 500 was up 4 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 1,546; and the Dow Jones industrial average was down 36 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 14,506.

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Most commodities were higher, with crude oil futures in New York up 0.3 per cent at $88.31 per barrel and gold futures up 1 per cent at $1,406 per ounce. But copper was extending its plummet into bear market territory this week, last trading down 1.7 per cent at $3.16 per pound. The red metal is on track for its biggest weekly loss in 16 months, and today came under pressure from news that rail exports of the commodity from Africa's largest producer have resumed. Copper inventories are already at high levels and the additional supplies are only compounding the oversupply situation.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. both opened down 0.3 per cent.

While there have been plenty of suggestions of late that U.S. markets are in need of at least a short-term correction after the big gains this year, bulls still have plenty to feed on: valuations remain reasonable in comparison with past market peaks, there's plenty of liquidity, and central bank's stimulus measures are showing few signs of ending as inflation remains subdued.

Hong Kong and Chinese stocks were the star performers overnight, getting a lift from higher commodity prices and also comments from China's head of the economic forecast department of China's State Information Center. The official predicted that China's economy may rebound in the second and third quarters of this year. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 2.3 per cent and China's Shanghai index was up 2.1 per cent.

European stock markets this morning are higher, also finding support from bargain hunters and a more positive tone in the commodity sector. London's FTSE 100 was up 0.3 per cent, Germany's Dax was up 0.04 per cent, and France's CAC 40 was up 1 per cent.

There was little in the way of U.S. economic data to drive markets today, but plenty of earnings reports. Here's an overview:

IBM shares were down 6 per cent after the tech bellwether reported weaker-than-expected profits and revenues after the closing bell on Thursday.

Dell Inc. said a consortium led by Blackstone Management Partners LLC has decided not to submit a definitive proposal to acquire the company and is withdrawing from the process. Dell shares were down 3.5 per cent.

General Electric earned 35 cents per share in its latest quarter, in line with what analysts had expected. Shares were down 3.3 per cent.

McDonald’s Corp. reported earnings of $1.26 per share, in line with estimates, but global comparable sales fell 1 per cent and shares were down 2 per cent.

Honeywell International Inc reported a 17-per-cent rise in first-quarter profit, helped by higher margins. Shares were up 3 per cent.

Google Inc. shares were up 1.2 per cent after late Thursday reporting profits that beat Street expectations, as its core advertising business showed strength.

Microsoft Corp. shares were up 4.6 per cent it announced late Thursday profits that beat Street views, although its chief financial officer announced he was leaving in the latest executive exodus.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. reported revenue of $1.09-billion, down from $1.59-billion in the year-ago quarter, below Street views. But its forecasts for revenues in the current quarter beat Street forecasts. Shares were down 2.3 per cent.

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