Rising gold stocks helped push the Toronto stock market higher Friday morning on top of three straight days of advances.
The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 64 points to 13,895.58.
The Canadian dollar slid 0.23 of a cent to 91.3 cents US.
U.S. indexes were mixed amid U.S. earnings reports from a variety of sectors and economic data showing rising industrial production and declining housing starts.
The Dow Jones industrials rose 62.3 points to 16,479.31, the Nasdaq was 3.94 points lower to 4,214.75 and the S&P 500 index was off 0.93 of a point to 1,844.96.
General Electric’s net income rose five per cent to $4.2-billion in the fourth quarter on rising profits from the sale of aircraft engines, oil and gas drilling equipment and appliances. Ex-items, GE met analyst expectations of 53 cents a share but its shares fell 76 cents to $26.44.
Investment bank Morgan Stanley earned $433-million, or 20 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2013. That compared with $982-million, or 49 cents a share, a year earlier. Ex-items, it earned 50 cents a share, six cents ahead of estimates and Morgan Stanley shares gained $1.36 to $33.36.
After the close Thursday, Intel said its fourth-quarter net income rose six per cent to $2.63-billion or 51 cents a share, as the company offset flat demand for its personal computer chips with higher sales of other products. Revenue rose three per cent to $13.83-billion. Analysts expected a profit of 52 cents per share on revenue of $13.72-billion and its shares dropped 95 cents to $25.59.
Analysts note that the start to the fourth quarter earnings season this past week has been positive but with the Dow and S&P 500 trading at all-time highs, there are fairly high expectations.
“Companies are more or less getting to expectations but they’re not beating, we’re not getting the upside surprises that can ignite the next round of gains,” said Colin Cieszynski, Canadian markets specialist at CMC Markets Canada.
“Intel is a good example of this, pretty lacklustre, they missed by a penny, they marginally beat on sales, sales guidance is flat and then the stock is down about four per cent.”
Elsewhere, Dollarama Inc. (TSX:DOL), which said bad weather had a severe impact on its December sales but they have been trending back to normal levels. The Montreal-based retailer says comparable-store sales in the normally busy month were down 7.5 per cent.
Analyst Irene Nattel at RBC Dominion Securities said the warning came as no surprise.
“Extreme weather in Quebec and Ontario right before/around Xmas will have a negative impact on revenues for virtually all publicly traded retailers, most of which have extensive operations in those two provinces, which combined, account for 60 per cent of Canada’s population.”
Dollarama edged 14 cents lower to C$82.94.
RBC also downgraded Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) to sector perform from outperform after the transport giant said that its flagship new airliner will be going into service later than expected. Its stock fell 7.74 per cent Thursday on the news and lost a penny to $4.16 Friday.
The TSX gold sector, the worst performing component on the Toronto market last year, ran up almost three per cent.
The sector fell almost 50 per cent last year and “I think a lot of people dumped it at the end of last year to get it off the books and now you’re seeing the relief rally,” said Cieszynski.
February bullion rose $8.40 to US$1,248.60 an ounce. Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) advanced 75 cents to C$20.67 while Goldcorp (TSX:G) gained 72 cents to $25.10.
The energy component was up 0.27 per cent while the February crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 32 cents to US$94.28 a barrel.
March copper gained one cent to US$3.36 a pound, pushing the base metals sector up 0.18 per cent. Nevsun Resources (TSX:NSU) climbed 21 cents to $4.15.
Financials were also positive with Royal Bank (TSX:RY) ahead 56 cents to $71.92
On the economic front, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday that builders broke ground last month at a seasonally annual rate of 999,000. That’s 9.8 per cent lower than November’s pace of 1.12 million, which was the fastest in five years.
For the year, builders started 923,000 homes and apartments, up 18.3 per cent from 2012.
Applications for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, fell three per cent in December to a rate of 986,000.
Other data showed that U.S. factory production rose 0.4 per cent in December, following gains of 0.6 per cent in both November and October.
European bourses were mixed with London’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.16 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX gained 0.32 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 advanced 0.2 per cent.
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