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At the open: Dealmaking, earnings help boost TSX

Harlequin Romance novels seen in the World's Biggest Book Store. Torstar announced Friday that it is selling its Harlequin division.

Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail

Dealmaking and earnings news helped push the Toronto stock market slightly higher while markets had a tepid response to U.S. jobs data, even as April figures for job creation blew past expectations.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 59.55 points to 14,723.92.

The Canadian dollar moved down 0.19 of a cent to 91.04 cents (U.S.).

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New York index were positive after the U.S. Labor Department reported that the American economy cranked out 288,000 jobs during April. Economists had expected growth of around 200,000. Also, the jobless rate fell from 6.7 per cent to 6.3 per cent, the lowest level since September 2008.

The Dow Jones industrials gained 59.28 points to 16,618.15, the Nasdaq was up 15.37 points to 4,142.82 and the S&P 500 index rose 7.60 points to 1,891.28.

But the news wasn't all good: the labour force participation rate fell to just 62.8 per cent during April from 63.2 per cent and there was a decline of 73,000 in employment.

"This is the main reason why we saw such a large pullback in the unemployment rate and may discount the positive spin," observed Andrew Pyle at ScotiaMcLeod in Peterborough, Ont.

There was some major dealmaking in the media sector as Torstar Corp., owner of the Toronto Star and other newspapers, said it's selling the Harlequin book publishing company for $455-million to News Corp. The company, best known for its romance novels, will be run as a division of News Corp. subsidiary HarperCollins Publishers. Torstar shares jumped 10.8 per cent to $7.40.

SNC-Lavalin shares ran ahead 7.5 per cent to $53.34 as the engineering giant said that it is selling AltaLink, Alberta's largest regulated electricity transmission company, to a subsidiary of the holding company run by U.S. financier Warren Buffett for gross proceeds of $3.2-billion. The deal with Berkshire Hathaway Energy represents what the company said is "another significant step" in its strategic plan to unlock and create value from its portfolio of infrastructure concession investments.

In earnings news, Gildan Activewear Inc. posted a second-quarter net profit of $79.2-million (U.S.), or 64 cents per share, compared with $72.3-million, or 59 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2013. The maker of t-shirts, socks and underwear said net sales were up 4.9 per cent at $548.8-million, compared with $523-million in the second quarter of fiscal 2013. Its shares advanced $1.70 to $58.40.

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Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. says it had $108.9-million of net income in the first quarter of 2014, a big improvement over the $23.9-million profit reported a year earlier. Ex-items, net income was $106.8-million or 61 cents per share. Its shares gained $1.84 or 5.68 per cent to $34.26.

LinkedIn suffered a first-quarter loss as the online professional networking service ramped up its investments in projects aimed at attracting more users. However, ex-items, the company earned 38 cents per share, four cents ahead of forecasts. Revenue rose 46 per cent from last year to $473.2-million, about $7-million above analyst predictions.

On the commodity markets, June crude in New York was up 33 cents to $99.75 a barrel and the energy sector rose 0.4 per cent.

The gold sector climbed 0.25 per cent as June bullion edged up $1.30 to $1,284.70 an ounce.

The base metals component was the weakest sector, down 1.15 per cent while July copper was up a cent to $3.03 a pound.

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