The Toronto stock market was slightly higher late-morning Thursday as investors play it cautious heading into the long Easter weekend and consolidate profits at the end of a positive week.
The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 21.21 points to 14,467.73, led by gains in energy and mining companies.
The Canadian dollar advanced amid data showing higher than expected inflation. The loonie was up 0.26 of a cent to 91.02 cents (U.S.) as Statistics Canada reported that the consumer price index rose 0.6 per cent in March from the previous month, higher than the 0.4 per cent reading that economists had expected. The rise was mostly due to a three per cent increase in gasoline from February.
U.S. indexes were little changed as traders balanced a string of positive earnings reports from corporate heavyweights including Goldman Sachs, General Electric and PepsiCo with earnings disappointments from IBM and Google.
The Dow Jones industrials were 4.04 points higher to 16,428.89, the Nasdaq gained 12.88 points to 4,099.11 and the S&P 500 index was up 2.1 points to 1,864.41.
On Thursday, General Electric posted lower first-quarter net income than a year ago because last year’s results included the sale of NBC Universal. GE earned $3-billion (U.S.) on revenue of $34.18-billion, down from $3.5-billion on revenue of $34.94-billion during the same period last year. Ex-items, GE earned 33 cents per share, down 15 per cent from a year ago but a penny better than what analysts expected and its shares were up 2.22 per cent.
And Goldman Sachs posted quarterly earnings of $4.02 a share, beating analyst expectations of $3.45 and its shares were up 1.35 per cent.
But Google stock dropped 3.55 per cent as quarterly earnings growth faltered amid a persistent downturn in advertising prices while IBM’s first-quarter earnings fell and revenue came in below Wall Street’s expectations amid an ongoing decline in its hardware business, pushing its shares down 3.4 per cent.
One reason for nervousness heading into the weekend was the Ukraine crisis.
High-level talks aimed at calming rising tensions continued Thursday with top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine attempting to forge a common position on how to de-escalate the situation.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped he would not have to deploy troops to Ukraine.
North American stocks racked up solid gains this week, partly because Chinese economic growth in the first quarter came in better than expected. Buying sentiment was also lifted by strong U.S. industrial production data while the Federal Reserve`s latest regional survey showed that the economy picked up over the past two months as bitter winter weather subsided.
May copper was up one cent at $3.04 a pound and the base metals component climbed 0.5 per cent.
The energy sector was up 0.3 per cent as the May crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was 72 cents higher to $104.48 a barrel.
The gold sector edged up 0.15 per cent while June bullion declined $4.60 to $1,298.90 an ounce.
Losses were led by the consumer staples sector, down 0.45 per cent.