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At midday: TSX advances; CN, Boeing beat expectations

A Boeing Co. 737 airplane is lined up at the company's assembly facility in Renton, Wash.


The Toronto stock market was modestly higher Wednesday amid positive earnings news and signs of weakening Chinese growth.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 19.46 points to 14,575.43. The Canadian dollar was down 0.1 of a cent to 90.58 cents (U.S.).

New York indexes were in the red as other data showed sales of new homes declined 14.5 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000. That was the second straight monthly decline and the lowest rate since July 2013.

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The Dow Jones industrials were off 26.07 points to 16,488.3, the Nasdaq declined 26.35 points to 4,135.1 while the S&P 500 index was down 3.64 points to 1,875.91.

In Canada, Canadian National Railways increased its first-quarter profit 12.2 per cent to $623-million, despite severe winter weather, beating analyst expectations on both revenue and profit. Excluding gains from asset sales, CN earned $551-million or 66 cents per share, three cents ahead of estimates. Revenue grew nine per cent to $2.69-billion, ahead of estimates of $2.64-billion and its shares gained 87 cents to $64.44.

Those results followed a well-received earnings report Tuesday from Canadian Pacific Railway that showed the company handily beat expectations.

"We would have thought that the weather would have reduced their overall revenues and earnings," said Philip Petursson, director of institutional equities at Manulife Asset Management.

"I think that with CP in particular, we`re seeing the efficiencies follow through in terms of being a better operator over all."

And on Wednesday, electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc. said it had $47.1-million (U.S.) of adjusted net earnings in the first quarter, or $37.3-million under standard accounting, both up substantially from the same time last year – despite soft demand from its customers in the communications equipment sector. Celestica's revenue of $1.312-billion missed expectations of $1.36-billion. Its adjusted earnings amounted to 26 cents per share against analyst expectations for 20 cents and its shares gained 17 cents to $12.23.

Mining stocks weighed on the TSX as data showed that factory activity in China shrank for the fourth straight month in April, though the decline was slightly slower. The preliminary version of HSBC's purchasing managers' index edged up 48.3 from March's 48.0.

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May copper was unchanged at $3.05 a pound and the base metals sector dipped 0.5 per cent.

June crude in New York added four cents to $101.79 a barrel and the energy sector was ahead 0.76 per cent.

The gold sector was up 1.11 per cent while June bullion gained $2.70 to $1,283.80 an ounce.

In the U.S., Boeing reported adjusted earnings of $1.76 per share, beating estimates of $1.56 per share. The company reported $20.47-billion in revenue, more than the $20.15-billion expected, and its shares were ahead $2.41 to $129.96.

The Boeing earnings reinforced the view the earnings season so far has turned out to be better than what had been expected.

"Revenues are still coming kind of flattish and that I would say is the downside," added Petursson.

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"The upside is that earnings are coming in better than expected and I would say when we look ahead into Q2, and Q3, we will see accelerated earnings growth through the next couple of quarters at least."

Traders will also take in earnings later in the day from tech giants Facebook and Apple.

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