The Toronto stock market was higher Monday despite data that indicated China’s economic growth rate has slowed slightly.
The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 50.08 points to 13,938.29 with strength coming from gold miners and tech companies.
The Canadian dollar rose 0.26 of a cent to 91.37 cents U.S. two days before the Bank of Canada makes its next announcement on interest rates.
It was a relatively quiet session with U.S. markets closed for the Martin Luther King holiday.
The Chinese economy grew by 7.7 per cent over a year earlier, down from previous quarter’s 7.8 per cent. Growth for the full year was 7.7 per cent, tying 2012 for the weakest annual performance since 1999.
China’s factory output, exports and investment all weakened. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, economic growth dropped to 1.8 per cent from the previous period’s 2.2 per cent.
But the news didn’t come as a huge surprise to markets, which have gotten used to the fact that double-digit Chinese growth is something that won’t be happening again any time soon.
“It was widely expected,” said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Jennifer Lee.
“The results weren’t too bad and continue to illustrate an economy that is inching towards more consumption-led, not investment/export-led, growth.”
TSX advancers were led by the tech sector, up 1.3 per cent with BlackBerry (TSX:BB) ahead $1.37 or 13.7 per cent to $11.35.
On Friday, a short-selling firm, Citron Research, argued in a new report that short sellers are misguided in their negativism on the smartphone maker and that the stock could double. It set a $15 (U.S.) price target.
Open Text (TSX:OTC) gained $1.18 to $100.32 ahead of the company posting earnings on Thursday.
The battered gold sector continued to make gains, up 0.8 per cent as February bullion rose $2.40 to US$1,254.30 an ounce in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) gained 33 cents to C$20.94 while Iamgold (TSX:IMG) ran ahead 15 cents to $4.60.
The base metals sector was ahead 0.45 per cent as March copper shed early losses and was unchanged at US$3.34 a pound. Capstone Mining (TSX:CS) added three cents to C$3.22.
Financials were also supportive as Royal Bank (TSX:RY) climbed 49 cents to $72.35.
The energy sector was flat and oil prices were lower. The February crude oil contract declined 40 cents to US$93.97 a barrel.
Meanwhile, investors will continue to focus on another heavy slate of fourth-quarter earnings next week, particularly from the U.S.
This week sees results from such heavyweights as energy services firm Halliburton, drug company Johnson & Johnson, tech company Texas Instruments, telco Verizon, corporate services firm Xerox, consumer products company Kimberly-Clark and McDonald’s.
On the Canadian economic calendar, Statistics Canada releases data on manufacturing shipments for November on Tuesday, November retail sales on Thursday and the December reading on inflation on Friday.
In the U.S., investors will look to homes sales data along with latest reading of the economic leading indicator — a look at where the economy is going in the next six months — on Thursday.
Elsewhere on the corporate front, WestJet Airlines Ltd. says it is bringing its new Encore regional service to Ontario. The airline (TSX:WJA) says it will start with routes between Toronto and Thunder Bay, Ont., and between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. WestJet didn’t say when the Encore flights to the two Ontario cities would begin. Its shares slipped seven cents to $27.01.
In Europe, Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, announced a large fourth-quarter loss, largely due to weak investment banking results and the cost of strengthening its finances.
The bank posted a fourth-quarter net loss of 965 million euros, an announcement that came 10 days before it was scheduled to release its results. The figure was below analysts’ expectations. Revenues during the fourth quarter were down 16 per cent year-on-year at 6.6 billion euros.
European markets were mixed as London’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.04 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was down 0.36 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 was off 0.19 per cent.
Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 0.6 per cent, China’s Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.9 per cent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.2 per cent.
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