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In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, file photo, traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, file photo, traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP)

At the open: Markets, commodities rise on strong Chinese trade data Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was higher as commodity prices rose amid stronger than expected trade figures from China.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 46.64 points to 13,927.63 as traders also took in a slew of earnings from companies including Air Canada and Rogers Communications.

They also digested a major deal involving Maple Leaf Foods. Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo is buying all the shares of Canada Bread Co. Ltd. in a deal worth $1.83-billion or $72 a share. Maple Leaf currently holds 90 per cent of Canada Bread’s outstanding shares. Maple Leaf shares rose 21 cents to $16.05 while Canada Bread ran up $4.89 to $72.15.

The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.22 of a cent to 90.99 cents (U.S.).

U.S. indexes were also positive following substantial gains Tuesday after Congress voted Tuesday night to extend the U.S. debt ceiling without any spending conditions. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 25.44 points to 16,020.21 following a 193-point surge, the Nasdaq gained 16.84 points to 4,207.89 while the S&P 500 was 4.44 points higher to 1,824.19.

Markets were also relieved after the new head of the U.S. Federal Reserve vowed a continuation of low interest rates. Janet Yellen said that while she thinks the U.S. economy is strong enough to weather a cutback in a key stimulus program, rates should stay low to support a still lacklustre economy.

Meanwhile, data showed that China’s trade growth accelerated in January, as imports rose 10 per cent to $107.2-billion, up from January’s 8.3 per cent growth. Exports rose 10.6 per cent to $126.7-billion, more than double the previous month’s 4.3 per cent expansion and the trade surplus widened to $31.9-billion. All three numbers beat expectations.

The report helped alleviate worries about the world’s second-biggest economy. Markets had sold off early last week after other data showed manufacturing expanded at a much slower than expected pace at the beginning of the year.

On the earnings front, Air Canada posted quarterly earnings ex-items of $3-million or one cent a share, missing expectations of 12 cents. The carrier also warned that this year’s first quarter will continue to feel the impact of weather-related costs and the effect of the lower loonie and its shares plunged 14.83 per cent to $6.66.

Rogers Communications Inc. fell $2 to $43.69 as the telco posted adjusted earnings of $347-million or 69 cents a share, missing estimates by six cents. Revenue of $3.24-billion also missed estimates of $3.3-billion while the company also upped its quarterly dividend five per cent to 45.7 cents per share.

Financials led TSX advancers, up 0.8 per cent, led by gains in insurers.

The data helped send commodity prices higher as March crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $1.24 to $101.18 (U.S.) a barrel and the energy sector rose 0.65 per cent.

The base metals group climbed 0.35 per cent while March copper gained three cents to $3.25 (U.S.) a pound.

The gold sector was the major decliner, down 1.26 per cent while April gold was unchanged at $1,289.80 (U.S.) an ounce.


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