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(Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
(Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

At the open: TSX higher as TD, CIBC beat expectations Add to ...

Solid bank earnings helped give the Toronto stock market a modest gain Thursday while traders also looked to remarks later in the morning from U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 14.99 points to 14,203.57 as CIBC posted quarterly net income of $1.18-billion, up nearly 50 per cent from a year ago and partly due to its sale of half its Aeroplan credit card business to TD Bank.

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Ex-items, CIBC’s earnings were up 6.3 per cent to $951-million or $2.31 a share, 15 cents better than estimates. TD’s adjusted net income was $2.02-billion, or $1.06 per common share, two cents ahead of estimates.

TD hiked its dividend by nine per cent to 47 cents per share while CIBC’s will be going up about two per cent to 98 cents per share. TD shares rose 12 cents to $49.54 while CIBC gained $1.11 to $91.70.

The Canadian dollar was off 0.02 of a cent to 89.84 cents (U.S.).

New York indexes were lacklustre while traders also digested data showing that orders for durable goods declined a seasonally adjusted one per cent in January compared with December. Much of last month’s decline was driven by a 20.2 per cent drop in demand for commercial aircraft, a volatile month-to-month category.

The Dow Jones industrial edged up 5.02 points to 16,203.43, the Nasdaq was up 6.33 points to 4,298.39 while the S&P 500 index added 0.43 of a point to 1,845.59.

Yellen’s testimony before the Senate’s Banking Committee was supposed to take place earlier this month but was postponed because of a fierce winter storm in Washington. Investors will be looking to see what she says about how tough weather conditions have impacted the economy and if the Fed plans to further taper its bond purchases.

In other earnings news, George Weston Ltd.’s quarterly earnings grew to $232-million, up from $112-million in the period last year. Adjusted basic net earnings per share were $1.11, which was 14 cents better than estimates and its shares improved by eight cents to $79.80.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International reported quarterly net income of $124-million, or 36 cents per share, compared to a loss of $89.1-million a year ago. Revenues in the quarter were $2.1-billion, up 109 per cent compared to a year earlier and its shares were up $5.85 to $168.23.

The tech sector led advancers, up 1.15 per cent.

The base metals sector was up 0.57 per cent as May copper lost two cents to $3.20 (U.S.) a pound.

A major decliner was Taseko Mines after the federal government again rejected its proposed $1.5-billion, open-pit, gold-copper mine in British Columbia’s Interior over environmental concerns. The environment department rejected the New Prosperity Mine for a second time because it will cause significant adverse environmental effects that can’t be mitigated.

April bullion gained $3.90 to $1,331.90 an ounce and the gold sector advanced 0.35 per cent.

The energy sector was little changed as the April crude contract in New York dipped 18 cents to $102.41 a barrel.

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