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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on April 20 (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on April 20 (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

At midday: TSX up as CP Rail jumps; energy, bank stocks rise Add to ...

Canada’s main stock index rose on Thursday as Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd jumped on an earnings beat and as energy and many financial shares also gained.

Canadian Pacific was the most influential gainer on the index, adding 2.9 per cent to $207.87 after it reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit as it earned more from shipments of commodities such as grain and coal, and expressed optimism that demand was improving.

Its rival, Canadian National Railway Co, rose 1.8 per cent to $100.51.

At 11:27 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 93.42 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 15,646.30. Nine of its 10 main groups gained.

The energy group climbed 0.4 per cent, as oil prices steadied after steep losses in the prior session. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd rose 1.6 per cent to $44.38.

The financials group rose 0.7 per cent.

Those two sectors together account for more than half of the index’s weight.

Lending activity to small Canadian businesses dipped in February, though borrowing by medium-sized firms rose for the fourth month in a row on strength in the construction sector and oil-related provinces, data showed on Thursday.

The country’s largest lender, Royal Bank of Canada, rose 0.6 per cent to $95.78, and Toronto-Dominion Bank added 0.5 per cent to $66.17.

But shares in Home Capital Group Inc slumped 17.2 per cent to $18.48 after staff at the Ontario Securities Commission said they would pursue claims that the alternative lender and three current or former executives had breached disclosure rules.

Celestica Inc declined 2.8 per cent to $18.76 after the electronics manufacturer reported quarterly earnings.

Wall Street was higher in late morning trading on Thursday, boosted largely by gains in financial and materials stocks.

A 3.9-per-cent rise in shares of American Express kept the Dow Jones Industrial Average on track to break a two-day losing streak, although losses in Travelers and Verizon limited the gains.

AmEx reported a smaller-than-expected drop in quarterly profit on Wednesday, indicating the credit card company was recovering from the loss of key partnerships last year.

“As we see a steady stream of earnings, on balance the season has been better and that’s helping the market today,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

With Wall Street near record levels and worries over President Donald Trump’s ability to deliver on his pro-growth promises, investors are hoping first-quarter earnings will be strong enough to justify lofty market valuations.

Of the 57 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Wednesday morning, about 75 per cent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the 71-per-cent average for the past four quarters.

Overall, profits of S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 10.8 per cent in the quarter, the best since 2011.

“Investors are definitely nervous about the upcoming French elections, the situation in North Korea and Syria. Friday should be a risk-off trading day ahead of the election.”

Mounting tensions between North Korea and the United States and the looming French presidential elections are keeping investors away from making risky bets.

A closely watched poll showed Centrist Emmanuel Macron hung on to his lead as favorite to win France’s presidential election in a four-way race that is too close to call.

Oil prices remained volatile with Brent crude up 0.3 per cent at $53.10, after being lower earlier in the session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 70.46 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 20,474.95, the S&P 500 was up 6.08 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 2,344.25.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 19.68 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 5,882.71.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the financial index’s 0.77-per-cent rise leading the gainers.

CSX Corp jumped 7 perc ent to $50.16 after the No. 3 U.S. railroad operator’s quarterly profit beat estimates. The stock was among the biggest boosts to the S&P and the Nasdaq.

Shares of Philip Morris fell 3.6 per cent to $109.82 after the tobacco maker’s first-quarter profit forecast came in below estimates.

Key companies scheduled to report results on Thursday include Dow component Visa and toymaker Mattel.

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