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At the open: TSX edges higher amid positive earnings

A CN locomotive goes through the CN Taschereau yard in Montreal on Nov., 28, 2009.


The Toronto stock market was slightly higher Wednesday amid positive earnings news and signs of weakening Chinese growth.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 13.8 points to 14,569.77.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.13 of a cent to 90.55 cents (U.S.), despite a better than expected reading on Canadian retail sales during February. Statistics Canada said sales rose 0.5 per cent to $41-billion. Economists had generally expected a 0.4 per cent rise.

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New York indexes were in the red as traders looked to earnings coming out during the day from tech giants Facebook, Apple and Qualcomm along with aircraft maker Boeing.

The Dow Jones industrials were off 11.43 points to 16,502.94, the Nasdaq declined 12.91 points to 4,148.55 while the S&P 500 index was down 1.66 points to 1,877.89.

In Canada, Canadian National Railways said after the close Tuesday that profit increased 12.2 per cent to $623-million in the first quarter, despite the negative effects of a very cold and snowy winter, beating analyst expectations on both revenue and profit. Excluding gains from asset sales, CN earned $551-million or 66 cents per share, three cents ahead of estimates. Revenue grew nine per cent to $2.69-billion, ahead of estimates of $2.64-billion and its shares gained $1.47 to $65.04.

And on Wednesday, electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc. said it had $47.1-million (U.S.) of adjusted net earnings in the first quarter, or $37.3-million under standard accounting, both up substantially from the same time last year – despite soft demand from its customers in the communications equipment sector. Celestica's revenue of 1.312-billion missed expectations of $1.36-billion. Its adjusted earnings amounted to 26 cents per share against analyst expectations for 20 cents and its shares gained 17 cents to $12.23.

Mining stocks weighed on the TSX as data showed that factory activity in China shrank for the fourth straight month in April, though the decline was slightly slower. The preliminary version of HSBC's purchasing managers' index edged up 48.3 from March's 48.0 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate expansion.

May copper was down one cent to $3.05 a pound and the base metals sector dipped 0.42 per cent.

On the commodity markets, June crude in New York added 11 cents to $101.86 a barrel and the energy sector was ahead 0.25 per cent.

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The gold sector was up 0.3 per cent while June bullion gained $3.30 to $1,287.60 an ounce.

In the U.S., Boeing reported adjusted earnings of $1.76 per share, beating the estimate of $1.56 per share from Wall Street analysts surveyed by FactSet. The company reported $20.47-billion in revenue, more than the $20.15-billion expected and its shares were ahead $2.75 to $130.30.

Procter & Gamble, the world's biggest consumer products maker, earned $2.61-billion, or 90 cents per share. That compares with $2.57-billion, or 88 cents per share, last year. Excluding restructuring charges and other items, earnings were $1.04 per share. Analysts' forecast $1.02 per share. Revenue totalled $20.56-billion, down slightly from last year's $20.6-billion on foreign currency fluctuations. Wall Street expected $20.68-billion and its shares fell $1.66 to $79.59.

Elsewhere on the corporate front, shareholders in Mega Brands Canada's only publicly traded toy maker have overwhelmingly approved a $460-million friendly takeover by American toy giant Mattel.

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