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

At midday: TSX lower amid slew of earnings Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was lower Thursday as traders waded through a flood of Canadian earnings news and watched Twitter stock soar as the year’s most anticipated stock sale got under way.

The S&P/TSX composite index declined 51.17 points to 13,329.24, dragged lower by mining and energy stocks.

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Twitter stock started trading late-morning and quickly zoomed about 80 per cent to $46.89 from the initial public offering price of US$26, which was set Wednesday night.

But despite Twitter’s strong early performance, analysts observed that there will likely be other opportunities to own the stock.

“I think right now, wait and see what happens,” said Allan Small, senior adviser at DWM Securities, who observed that Twitter has yet to be profitable.

“I don’t think I would be the first guy buying shares today. I would want to see where the dust settles, see where it trades early next week and take it from there.”

The Canadian dollar was down 0.27 of a cent to 95.72 cents US as the greenback strengthened in the wake of a surprise decision by the European Central Bank to cuts its key rate to 0.25 per cent from 0.5 per cent. Other data showed that U.S. gross domestic product rose at an annualized rate of 2.8 per cent in the quarter, against the two per cent rise that economists had expected.

U.S. indexes failed to find lift from the ECB decision or the GDP data and the Dow Jones industrials were down 70.25 points to 15,676.63, the Nasdaq was down 51.09 points to 3,880.85 and the S&P 500 index was off 12.86 points to 1,757.63.

Traders also looked to the release Friday of the U.S. government’s employment report for October.

The GDP report and the jobs data will help the Federal Reserve decide whether to start cutting back on its US$85 billion of monthly bond purchases later this year.

Meanwhile, Canadian earnings news spanned most TSX sectors, including telecom, financial and resource companies.

BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) adjusted earnings in the third quarter rose by seven per cent to $584 million or 75 cents per share, which was two cents below estimates. And BCE’s revenue rose 2.3 per cent from a year earlier to just under $5.1 billion, slightly below estimates of $5.16 billion. Its shares edged two cents higher to $45.52.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) is hiking its quarterly dividend by 60 per cent to 20 cents a share. It also expects to increase annual cash flow by 14 per cent in 2014 to $8.7 billion as production output grows by seven per cent over this year’s level.

Cash flow from operations rose to $2.4 billion or $2.26 per share in the third quarter, beating estimates of $2.17 a share, and its shares gained 34 cents to $32.83.

Tim Hortons Inc. (TSX:THI) posted net income of $113.9 million or 75 cents per share in the third quarter, both up from the same time last year but short of analyst estimates. The restaurant operator’s revenues also grew, rising by 2.9 per cent to $825.3 million. Analysts were looking for 78 cents per share of net income, 77 cents per share of adjusted earnings and $824.5 million of revenue and its shares were up 30 cents to $62.90.

And insurer Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) said that its core earnings for the quarter were $704 million, up sharply from $570 million a year earlier. Net income came in at $1.034 billion, compared with a net loss of $211 million a year ago and its shares climbed 49 cents to $19.20 after hitting a new 52-week high of $19.34.

After the close Wednesday, Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF) reported a quarterly loss of $520 million or 84 cents a share as it wrote down and closed the sale of its U.S. annuity business. That compared with a profit of $383 million, or 64 cents per share, a year ago. Ex-items, it earned an operating net profit from continuing operations of $422 million or 69 cents per diluted share for the quarter, beating estimates by five cents a share. Sun Life advanced 55 cents to $35.98.

Commodity prices were generally depressed and the energy sector was down one per cent while December crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange declined 86 cents to US$93.94 a barrel. Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) gave back 97 cents to C$44.47.

The base metals sector was also down one per cent with December copper off a penny at US$3.23 a pound and Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) gave back 53 cents to C$28.44.

The gold sector declined 0.25 per cent while December bullion fell $7.90 to US$1,309.90 an ounce. Goldcorp (TSX:G) faded 25 cents to $26.

Tech stocks led advancers with Open Text (TSX:OTC) up 89 cents to $87.80.

 
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