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Manulife Financial headquarters in Toronto, August 29, 2012. (Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail)
Manulife Financial headquarters in Toronto, August 29, 2012. (Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail)

At the open: TSX advances on busy day of earnings Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was higher Thursday morning amid a heavy slate of corporate earnings and tepid manufacturing data from China.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 26.84 points to 14,678.71. The Canadian dollar was down 0.13 of a cent to 91.02 cents (U.S.).

U.S. indexes were slightly higher amid mixed economic data.

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Consumer spending rose 0.9 per cent during March, the largest monthly gain since April 2009. The U.S. Commerce department also revised up its estimate of the spending increase in February to 0.5 per cent from 0.3 per cent.

But other data showed that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose 14,000 to 344,000 last week, the highest level since February.

That was unwelcome news a day before the U.S. government releases its non-farm payrolls report for April.

The Dow Jones industrials were ahead 14.32 points to 16,595.16, the Nasdaq climbed 3.58 points to 4,118.14 and the S&P 500 index edged up 0.52 of a point at 1,884.47.

Transportation company Bombardier Inc. posted first-quarter net income of $115-million, or earnings per share of six cents, compared with $148-million, or eight cents, in the same period of 2013. Ex-items, earnings were eight cents a share, which was in line with expectations and its shares fell 26 cents or 5.9 per cent to $4.15.

Manulife Financial’s first-quarter net profit jumped 50 per cent to $818-million, or 42 cents per share. Core earnings, excluding one-time items, were up at $719-million, or 37 cents, compared with $619-million, or 32 cents, year-over-year. Analysts had expected 39 cents a share but its shares ticked 28 cents higher to $20.86.

Imperial Oil Ltd. lost 86 cents to $52.66 as the energy company earned a first-quarter net profit of $946-million, or $1.11 per share, up 19 per cent from $798-million, or 94 cents per share, in the same quarter in 2013. Revenue and other income increased to $9.22-billion compared with $8.01-billion year-over-year.

Goldcorp Inc. earned $98-million (U.S.) or 12 cents a share in its latest quarter as increased gold sales offset lower prices. That’s down from $309-million or 33 cents per share a year ago. Ex-items, profit was $209-million or 26 cents per share, compared with an adjusted profit of $253-million or 31 cents per share in the first quarter of 2013 and its shares added five cents to $27.12.

Shares in Catamaran Corp. surged 13.2 per cent to $47.13 as the provider of pharmacy benefit management services and technology said quarterly revenue increased 53 per cent to $4.9-billion. Net income increased 23 per cent to $63.4-million.

Commodity prices were lower while a survey of Chinese manufacturers shows activity grew weakly in April.

The government-sanctioned China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Thursday its monthly purchasing managers index stood at 50.4 points, up marginally from March’s 50.3 points. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The showing comes as investors wonder if China can maintain growth at the official target of 7.5 per cent.

July copper edged a penny lower to $3.02 a pound and the base metals sector rose 0.45 per cent.

The June crude contract in New York fell 55 cents to $99.19 a barrel and the energy sector drifted 0.12 per cent lower.

The gold sector fell almost one per cent while June bullion fell $16 to $1,279.90 an ounce.

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