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At the open: Mixed earnings pull TSX lower

Manulife Financial headquarters in Toronto. The company reports earnings on Thursday.

KEVIN FRAYER/Canadian Press

The Toronto stock market was lower Thursday amid a variety of earnings disappointments from the insurance, manufacturing and resource sectors.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 20.63 points to 13,879.86.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.08 of a cent to 90.85 cents (U.S.).

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New York indexes were in deep in the red as January retail sales data missed expectations.

The Dow Jones industrials dropped 64.63 points to 15,899.31 as sales fell 0.4 per cent against the 0.3 per cent decline that economists had expected.

The Nasdaq fell 8.25 points to 4,193.04 while the S&P 500 index was down 5.81 points to 1,813.45.

There was also major acquisition activity as Comcast Corp. confirmed that it plans to buy Time Warner Cable for about $45.2-billion (U.S.) in stock in a deal that would combine the top two cable TV companies in the United States.

On the earnings front, Manulife Financial Corp. says it had $685-million or 35 cents a share of core earnings in the fourth quarter, three cents short of expectations, and its shares fell 61 cents to $20.30.

Sun Life Financial Inc. posted operating income that nearly doubled during the most recent quarter to $642-million or $1.05 per share, well above estimates of 68 cents per share, and its shares fell 29 cents to $37.24.

Telus Corp. posted $301-million or 49 cents of quarterly adjusted net income, up 12.7 per cent from a year earlier. The results beat expectations by a penny and its shares rose 50 cents to $37.56.

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The base metals sector led decliners, down 2.5 per cent on the TSX as March copper dipped three cents to $3.22 (U.S.) a pound. Teck Resources blamed lower prices for a lower adjusted fourth-quarter profit of $227-million, or 40 cents a share. Teck shares fell $1.42 or 5.1 per cent to $26.44 (Canadian).

The industrials sector fell 1.2 per cent and Bombardier Inc. tumbled almost 11 per cent to $3.60 as the company reported that it had $129-million (U.S.) of quarterly adjusted net income, or seven cents per share, which was four cents below estimates.

The energy sector was down 0.5 per cent as March crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange was down 43 cents to $99.94 (U.S.) a barrel.

Shares in Cenovus Energy Inc. lost 89 cents to $28.75 as the oilsands producer reported $212-million or 28 cents a share of operating earnings, compared with a year-earlier operating loss of $188-million or 25 cents per share. Cenovus also says its quarterly dividend will rise 10 per cent to 26.62 cents per share.

The gold sector rose one per cent while April bullion was $1.70 lower to $1,293.30 (U.S.) an ounce.

Barrick Gold Corp. shares fell to $ as the miner lost $2.83-billion (U.S.) in its latest quarter as the gold miner slashed it reserve estimates and said it expected production this year to fall from 2013.

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Markets have been generally positive this week after Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen reassured markets on interest rates and cutting back on stimulus measures. There was also relief as the U.S. Congress passed legislation to raise the debt limit and China released strong trade data for January.

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