The Toronto stock market was little changed Thursday as traders looked to a mixed slate of earnings news from telecom and tech and took in positive U.S. jobs data.
The S&P/TSX composite index was 51.54 points higher to 13,611.23 with the major Canadian earnings report of the morning coming from telecom giant BCE. The company posted quarterly adjusted net earnings of $540-million, an increase of 16.4 per cent from a year earlier, or 70 cents a share, beating estimates by a penny. BCE also upped its dividend six per cent to $2.47 a year.
The Canadian dollar was down 0.3 of a cent to 89.95 cents (U.S.) as Statistics Canada reported the trade deficit widened from $1.5-billion in November to $1.7-billion in December.
U.S. indexes were positive as jobless insurance claims, viewed as a proxy for layoffs, fell by a greater than expected 20,000 to 331,000 for last week.
The data is coming out a day before the release of the U.S. government’s employment report for January. Economists expect that 183,000 jobs were created during the month following a meagre 57,000 gain in December that was largely blamed on the weather.
Canadian employment data for January also comes out Friday with economists looking for a print of about 20,000 jobs.
The Dow Jones industrials jumped 97.26 points to 15,537.49, the Nasdaq gained 32.94 points to 4,044.5 and the S&P 500 index added 11.02 points to 1,762.66.
Twitter stock plunged 21.2 per cent to $51.94 (U.S.) as it beat earnings and revenue expectations in its first quarter as a public company. But compared with the end of the third quarter, Twitter’s user growth is slowing down. The company added just nine-million new monthly users, a slowdown from the previous three quarters.
GM shares fell almost two per cent as earnings ex-items came in at 67 cents a share, far below the 88 cents expected. Revenue of $40.5-billion (U.S.) missed forecasts of $41.075-billion.
Elsewhere in Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart posted adjusted earnings of $172-million or 86 cents a share, which met expectations, and its shares eased 25 cents to $57.79 (Canadian).
It has been a volatile week for markets after surveys earlier this week showed the U.S. and Chinese manufacturing sectors expanding at a slower pace. The data helped raise concerns about whether economic problems cropping up in emerging markets can be contained.
In other corporate news, Bombardier shares gained three cents to $4.16 after the British government said that it intends to award a $1.6-billion (U.S.) contract to the Canadian transport giant to supply trains and a depot for London’s transportation system.
Canadian National Railways and the Teamsters union have reached a tentative contract agreement, averting a potential strike by 3,000 workers that could have come as early as this weekend. CN shares dipped eight cents to $59.35.
Base metals stocks led TSX advancers with March copper up two cents to$3.21 (U.S.) a pound.
The energy sector rose 0.7 per cent while March crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved $1.19 higher to $98.57 (U.S.) a barrel.
The gold sector was also higher as April bullion gained $2.90 to $1,259.80 (U.S.) an ounce.