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At midday: TSX edges higher amid earnings, economic data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange April 9, 2014.


The Toronto stock market was little changed Thursday morning as disappointing earnings reports outnumbered positives and traders took in tepid manufacturing data from China.

The S&P/TSX composite index edged up 4.54 points to 14,656.41. The Canadian dollar was down 0.13 of a cent to 91.11 cents (U.S.).

U.S. indexes were mainly weak amid mixed economic data.

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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.

Other data from the Institute for Supply Management showed that its manufacturing index rose to 54.9 from 53.7 in March as exports picked up and factories accelerated hiring.

The Dow Jones industrials were down 17.98 points to 16,562.86, the Nasdaq gained 15.63 points to 4,130.18 and the S&P 500 index inched up 0.05 of a point sat 1,884.

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 33 cents higher to $20.91 as rising wealth sales compensated for lower insurance sales.

"What I like about the company is that they are de-emphasizing the insurance side of the business and putting more muscle into the wealth management side," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at 3MACS.

"I view that as a positive, the reason being the insurance product side of the business, you have to put up capital, you have capital at risk. The (wealth management side) is a fee-driven business, you don't tie up much capital."

Transportation company Bombardier Inc. posted first-quarter net income of $115-million (U.S.), 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 22 cents or five per cent to $4.19.

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Imperial Oil Ltd. lost 28 cents to $53.24 (Canadian) 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 15 cents to $27.22.

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

The 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 0.8 per cent.

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The June crude contract in New York fell 47 cents to U$99.27 a barrel and the energy sector drifted 0.5 per cent lower.

The gold sector fell 0.75 per cent while June bullion fell $15 to $1,280.90 an ounce.

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