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In this photo taken Saturday, May 3, 2014, a truck drives past containers at a port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. Customs data Thursday, May 8, 2014 showed exports rose 0.9 per cent, recovering from March's 6.6-per-cent decline. (AP)
In this photo taken Saturday, May 3, 2014, a truck drives past containers at a port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. Customs data Thursday, May 8, 2014 showed exports rose 0.9 per cent, recovering from March's 6.6-per-cent decline. (AP)

At the open: TSX advances amid improving Chinese data Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was higher Thursday amid major deal making in the financial sector, a slew of earnings news and positive trade numbers from China.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 18.02 points to 14,674.42. The Canadian dollar gained 0.13 of a cent to 91.93 cents (U.S.).

U.S. indexes were positive as traders await a second day of congressional testimony from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.

BNN Video May. 08 2014, 9:46 AM EDT

Video: Canadian Tire sells piece of financial services arm

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The Dow Jones industrials gained 39.69 points to 16,558.23, the Nasdaq was ahead 7.58 points to 4,075.25 and the S&P 500 index improved by 4.28 points to 1,882.49.

On Wednesday, Yellen told lawmakers that the U.S. job market is “far from satisfactory.” She said the Fed will begin increasing interest rates only when there is enough progress in restoring full employment and when inflation is back up to its target of two per cent.

Yellen’s comments appeared to ease concerns that the Fed might move too quickly to raise interest rates.

Investors were also encouraged Thursday by China’s April trade data that showed an improvement in exports. Exports rose 0.9 per cent from the previous year, compared with a 6.6 per cent decline in March. Imports also grew after a contraction in March but at a subdued level.

Scotiabank has signed a deal to buy a 20 per cent stake in Canadian Tire’s financial services business for $500-million in cash as part of a strategic partnership between the companies. Scotiabank shares rose 23 cents to $66.79 while Canadian Tire was ahead $1.50 to $109.35.

At the same time, Canadian Tire posted net income attributable to shareholders of $70.6-million, or 88 cents per share, down from $73-million, or 90 cents a share a year ago, which was five cents below analysts’ forecasts. Revenue met expectations, rising 3.8 per cent to $2.57-billion.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International posted a first-quarter net loss of $23-million or seven cents a share, compared with a loss of $27.5-million, or nine cents per share, in the same quarter of 2013. On a cash earnings per share basis, adjusted income was $600-million or $1.76 per diluted share, an increase of 35 per cent over the prior year and four cents ahead of estimates. Revenues jumped 77 per cent to $1.9-billion, up from $1.06-billion year-over-year and its shares inched up 12 cents to $145.18.

Telus Corp. slipped 14 cents to $39.31 as the telecom reported a first-quarter net profit up 4.1 per cent from a year ago to $377-million, or 61 cents per share, which met expectations. Revenue was up five per cent to $2.9-billion and exceeded expectations of $2.87-billion. Telus is also raising its dividend to 38 cents per share, an 11.8 per cent increase year-over-year.

Auto parts giant Magna International reported quarterly net income attributable to the company was $393-million and diluted earnings per share were $1.76, far below the $2.05 that analysts had expected. Sales were up seven per cent to $8.96-billion and its shares fell $2.14 to $105.21.

The base metals component led advancers, up one per cent while July copper edged up two cents to $3.05 (U.S.) a pound.

The gold sector rose 0.27 per cent as June bullion was up 30 cents to $1,289.20 an ounce.

The energy sector drifted 0.19 per cent lower with June crude in New York 83 cents lower to $99.94 a barrel.

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