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The screens at the TMX Broadcast Centre in Toronto show the closing numbers of the TSX at + 252.19 on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. (Matthew Sherwood For The Globe and Mail)

The screens at the TMX Broadcast Centre in Toronto show the closing numbers of the TSX at + 252.19 on Tuesday, July 3, 2012.

(Matthew Sherwood For The Globe and Mail)

At the open: TSX rises after string of losses Add to ...

The Toronto stock market advanced Thursday after four losing sessions amid higher commodities, positive earnings news and data showing Britain’s economy is growing again.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 117.06 points at 12,312.09 and the TSX Venture Exchange gained 13.74 points to 1,302.48.

The Canadian dollar was up 0.28 of a cent to 100.79 cents US as markets also got a boost from data that showed Britain’s economy emerged from recession in the July-to-September quarter after a nine-month downturn.

U.S. indexes were also higher with the Dow Jones industrials ahead 70.17 points to 13,147.51, the Nasdaq advancing 18.34 points to 3,000.04 and the S&P 500 index running ahead 9.25 points to 1,418.

Markets have lost ground over the last few days as results from big American multinationals such as McDonald’s, DuPont chemical and conglomerates General Electric and 3M Inc. disappointed and reminded investors about how fragile economic conditions are overseas, particularly in Europe.

Analysts also see traders getting more cautious ahead of the U.S. election on Nov. 6 which is seen as too close to call.

Traders were relieved Thursday to see strong reports from German industrial conglomerate BASF, consumer products company Unilever and Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

And U.S. multinational consumer products giant Procter & Gamble said quarterly net income fell seven per cent to $2.81-billion, or 96 cents per share, down from $3.02-billion, or $1.03 per share, last year. Adjusted results of $1.06 a share beat expectations by a dime, however, and the world’s largest consumer products maker reiterated its annual guidance, sending its shares up 3.7 per cent to US$70.58.

In Canada, Potash Corp. says its third-quarter profit fell 22 per cent from a year ago to US$645-million or 74 cents per share. Revenue was $2.14-billion, down from $2.32-billion in the third quarter of 2011. The revenue was in line with analyst estimates but profit was below expectations by two to three cents per share, depending on adjustments. Its shares erased early losses and added five cents to $40.34.

Elsewhere in the resource sector, oil and gas producer Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY) said its net income fell to $59-million, or 11 cents per share in the third quarter from $200-million, or 38 cents per share a year ago due to lower cash flow and the impact of several non-recurring items.

Nexen also said it expected the $15.1-billion deal that would see it acquired by China National Offshore Oil Co. to be completed by the end of this year. Its shares climbed 35 cents to $23.98.

Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) says its net income fell by 43 per cent from a year ago to $289-million or 38 cents per share before adjustments, missing analyst estimates by a wide margin. But Cenovus’s cash flow, a more closely watched metric in the energy sector, rose by 41 per cent to $1.12-billion or $1.47 per share, 25 cents better than estimates but its shares lost early momentum and declined 15 cents to $33.85.

Precision Drilling Corp. (TSX:PD) shares dipped nine cents to $7.43 as it saw its third-quarter profit drop 53 per cent to $39-million or 14 cents a share in the last quarter, which was five cents short of expectations. Revenue slipped 1.7 per cent to $484.8-million against expectations of $497.9-million.

The TSX energy sector was up 0.7 per cent as oil prices strengthened after five days of losses, including a drop of almost $1 on Wednesday in the wake of data showing a much larger increase in crude inventories last week than had been expected. The December contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 54 cents to US$86.27 a barrel.

The gold sector rose 2.7 per cent as December bullion gained $14.10 to US$1,715.70 an ounce and Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) handed in a strong earnings report. Goldcorp posted a third-quarter profit of US$498-million or 61 cents a share, helped by improvements at its Red Lake and Penasquito mines. Adjusted for one-time items, Goldcorp’s earnings were 54 cents per share, six cents better than estimates and its shares rose $2.09 to $42.88.

The metals and mining sector was up 0.09 per cent with copper up a penny to US$3.58 a pound. Copper closed unchanged Wednesday but prices for the metal, which is viewed as an economic barometer, saw a slide of 18 cents in the previous four sessions. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) climbed 37 cents to $31.76.

Elsewhere on the earnings front, Shaw Communications Inc. (TSX:SJR.B) gained 47 cents to $20.96 as it reported quarterly net income from continuing operations of $133-million, or 28 cents per diluted share, for down from $167-million or 37 cents per share in the same period last year. Revenue, however, was up 2.5 per cent to $1.21-billion for the quarter compared to $1.81-billion year over year.

European bourses were positive as London’s FTSE 100 index gained 0.25 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX gained 0.55 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 was up 0.45 per cent.

Asian stock markets finished mostly higher. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 1.1 per cent to a one-month high. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6 per cent but mainland China’s Shanghai Composite shed 0.7 per cent while the Shenzhen Composite Index lost one per cent.

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