The TSX edged up at the open, and U.S. indexes gently moved into the red, as markets absorbed the latest monetary policy views out of Europe and economic data in North America.
Investors here at home were also kept busy monitoring a whole whack of corporate earnings from many of Canada's biggest stocks.
In early trading, the S&P/TSX composite index was up just over 2 points at 12,764; the S&P 500 was down a couple of points at 1,510, and the Dow Jones industrial average was down 32 points at 13,954.
U.S. weekly jobless claims released this morning of 366,000 were a bit higher than economists were expecting. But they did fall by 5,000 from the previous week. In Canada, building permits fell 11.2 per cent in December, reported StatsCan, which was nearly double the decline economists had expected. But the new housing price index showed a December gain of 2.3 per cent from a year ago, and managed to edge up 0.2 from November, a bit better than forecasts.
Overseas, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi held his monthly news conference and provided some cautionary words on the economy. He said the economic outlook remains on the downside, pointing out that recent data continue to suggest further weakness in the fourth quarter and early 2013. He called the euro's recent rise a sign of improving confidence in the shared currency.
Earlier this morning, both the ECB and the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged.
Here's a look at some of the corporate news from this morning:
Research In Motion Ltd. is up 3 per cent after the company Wednesday said its Z10 devices enjoyed record BlackBerry sales this week. The company also announced this morning that it is adding two veterans of the telecom industry to its board of directors — a retired executive from U.S. mobile carrier Verizon Communications and a former CEO of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.
Shares in The New York Times Co. are up 11 per cent as the company's circulation revenue jumped 16.1 per cent in its latest quarter amid a 13 per cent rise in digital subscriptions from three months prior.
Manulife Financial Corp. reported adjusted fourth-quarter core earnings of 28 cents per share, as its net profit soared to $1.06-billion. Shares are up 0.6 per cent at the open.
Teck Resources Ltd. reported adjusted fourth-quarter profit of 61 cents a share, beating analysts' forecasts of 48 cents a share. Revenues of $2.73-billion also beat analysts' estimates for $2.55-billion. But shares opened down 1.5 per cent.
BCE Inc. hiked its dividend as it announced adjusted quarterly earnings of 65 cents a share, a penny short of analyst estimates. Revenue was virtually flat and slightly short of Street expectations. Shares are up 0.5 per cent.
Air Canada, on an adjusted basis, posted a net loss in the fourth quarter of 2 cents per share, better than the 60 cents per share net loss from a year ago. Shares were unchanged at the open.
Cineplex Inc. has closed out its “best year on record” with an almost 200 per cent increase in fourth-quarter profit. Shares opened up 1.4 per cent.
Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. is reporting stable profit, slightly higher revenue and a bigger dividend for its shareholders. Shares are up 2 per cent at the open.
Sprint Nextel Corp. posted a quarterly loss of 44 cents per share, compared with a loss of 43 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose to $9.01-billion, beating Street forecasts for $8.92-billion. Shares are down about half a per cent. .
Yahoo Inc. shares are up 1.7 per cent after announcing late Wednesday it reached a deal to have Google Inc. serve up advertising on some of its websites.