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At the open: Markets rise amid Ukraine, Middle East uncertainty

Israeli soldiers ride an armoured personnel carrier outside the Gaza Strip on July 15, 2014.


The Toronto stock market posted a healthy gain Friday morning after traders opened the day cautiously amid geopolitical worries.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 33.75 points to 15,238.23 despite concerns centred around Ukraine after a Malaysian Airlines jetliner was shot down Thursday.

Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the Malaysia Airlines plane with 298 people aboard with a surface to air missile, sharply escalating the crisis in the region and threatening to draw both East and West deeper into the conflict. The rebels denied downing the aircraft.

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Markets were also focused on the Middle East as Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza aimed at destroying militants' tunnels and rocket launcher sites.

The Canadian dollar was resilient despite the risk-off tone, up 0.2 of a cent to 93.15 cents (U.S.) as the latest data showed rising inflation. The consumer price index rose 0.1 per cent during June versus expectations for a slight decline. That translated into an annualized gain of 2.4 per cent – a two-year high – against the 2.3 per cent advance that economists forecast.

U.S. indexes were higher after racking up sharp losses on Thursday as the Dow Jones industrials moved ahead 50.42 points to 17,027.23, the Nasdaq rose 26.24 points to 4,389.69 and the S&P 500 index gained 7.41 points to 1,965.53.

On Thursday, the Dow tumbled 161 points in the wake of the news about the downing of the airliner but the TSX drifted just 22 points lower, finding strength from rising gold stocks and bullion prices along with a strong earnings report from Canadian Pacific Railway.

In earnings news, General Electric shares were up 0.7 per cent in pre-market trading after the industrial conglomerate reported earnings that rose by 13 per cent in its second quarter to $3.55-billion (U.S.), or 35 cents per share. Ex-items, earnings were 39 cents a share, which met expectations and its shares slipped 17 cents to $26.44.

After the close Thursday, Google said its second-quarter earnings rose six per cent to $3.4-billion, or $4.99 per share. If not for the costs of employee stock compensation, Google said it would have earned $6.08 per share. That figure missed the average analyst target of $6.23 per share, according to FactSet but its shares rose 3.17 per cent to $591.94.

And IBM shares slipped 32 cents to $192.17 as quarterly net profit rose to $4.1-billion, or $4.12 per share, from $3.2-billion, or $2.91 per share, a year earlier. Ex-items, the company earned $4.32 per share, beating analysts' average estimate of $4.29. Revenue fell two per cent to $24.4-billion, above analysts' average estimate of $24.1-billion. But IBM's software business grew less than expected in the second quarter and its shares The gold sector was the major weight, giving back most of Thursday's two per cent advance. Gold prices backed off after running up $17 on Thursday with the August contract down $10.30 to $1,306.60 an ounce.

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The metals and mining group was down 1.1 per cent while September copper was four cents lower to $3.17 a pound.

The energy sector gained 0.1 per cent with August crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange down 41 cents to $102.78.

The industrials sector was the leading gainer, up 0.5 per cent as CP climbed $2.58 to $204.91 on top of Thursday's gain of $4.50 (Canadian).

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