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At the open: TSX gains on positive World Bank forecast

In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, file photo, Trader Richard Newman works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stock markets rose Wednesday Jan. 15, 2014 as an upbeat World Bank assessment of the global economic outlook underpinned buying spurred by stronger U.S. retail sales.

Richard Drew/AP

The Toronto stock market advanced amid a positive forecast on the global economy.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 41.02 points to 13,733.4.

The Canadian dollar shook off early losses to drift 0.05 of a cent higher to 91.39 cents (U.S.).

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U.S. indexes were higher amid a strong earnings report from Bank of America and a much better than expected reading on manufacturing in the U.S. Northeast.

The Empire manufacturing survey beat expectations, rising to 12.5 in January, from a revised 2.2 in December. The survey showed significant improvements in balances for new orders, shipments and employee numbers.

Traders also took in data from the World Bank showing the global economy is slowly picking up steam.

The bank's twice-yearly Global Economics Prospects report says global growth is expected to rise from 2.4 per cent in 2013 to 3.2 per cent this year and 3.4 per cent in 2015.

The Dow Jones industrials gained 53.42 points to 16,427.28, the Nasdaq was ahead 17.77 points to 4,200.79 and the S&P 500 index was up 5.56 points to 1,844.44.

Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank, earned $3.44-billion (U.S.) or 29 cents a share in the October to December period, up from $732-million a year earlier. The showing beat forecasts by two cents amid a big improvement in loan loss provisions. Fourth-quarter revenue rose to $22.32-billion from $19.6-billion, exceeding analysts' forecasts of $21.2-billion and its shares were up 53 cents to $17.30.

Traders also awaited the afternoon release of the latest take on the economy by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Fed has already started to taper its massive monthly bond purchases to $75-billion a month, down from $85-billion, but has said further tapering will depend on economic performance, particularly jobs data.

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Uncertainty about Fed intentions arose after December jobs data released last Friday came far below expectations.

Corporate earnings are the other big issue for markets as fourth quarter data starts to come in. The S&P 500 rocketed about 30 per cent last year, helped in large measure by Fed stimulus. Investors now want to see if strong earnings and revenue can justify that gain and push stock prices higher.

Financials led TSX advancers with Power Corp. of Canada ahead 33 cents to $31.10 and Manulife Financial gained 18 cents to $21.76.

Techs were also positive with Open Text ahead $1.90 to $98.94.

The base metals component rose 0.22 per cent while March copper declined one cent to $3.33 (U.S.) a pound.

February crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 27 cents to $92.86 (U.S.) a barrel and the energy sector was up 0.12 per cent.

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The positive economic data sent gold stocks and prices lower. February bullion lost $8.80 to $1,236.60 (U.S.) an ounce while the TSX gold sector declined one per cent. Centerra Gold shed 13 cents to $4.46 (Canadian).

Osisko Mining Corp. says a hostile takeover bid for the company by Goldcorp Inc. is "very low" and urged shareholders to hold off from accepting the $2.6-billion offer until the board makes a recommendation on the proposal.

Osisko shares have traded well above the $5.95 implied value of the Goldcorp offer since the stock-and-cash proposal was first announced Monday. On Wednesday, Osisko shares slipped four cents to $6.19 while Goldcorp faded 28 cents to $24.06.

In other corporate news, Magna International Inc. is forecasting between $33.8-billion and $35.5-billion (U.S.) of total sales this year, with about half of that generated from North America. Magna is also predicting that it will spend about $1.4-billion on capital projects and its shares improved by 28 cents to $92.42.

General Motors said after the close Tuesday that it will resume paying a quarterly dividend for the first time in nearly six years. The new 30-cent dividend is payable in March.

On Wednesday, GM said that is expects pretax earnings to improve modestly this year, offset by $1.1-billion in European restructuring costs. The automaker earned $8.4-billion before taxes on $152-billion in revenue in 2012. The company releases 2013 earnings next month and its shares were down 39 cents to $39.62..

Encana Corp.'s chief financial officer says the company may decide to get rid of its Deep Panuke offshore natural gas project in Nova Scotia. Sherri Brillon says that the project doesn't fit with Encana's new strategy, which involves focusing on five core regions in Canada and the United States instead of investing in dozens of different areas. EnCana shares rose 16 cents to $19.11 (Canadian).

Sirius XM Canada Holdings Inc., parent of satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM Canada Inc., posted record first-quarter revenue of $76.4-million, up 11 per cent from a year ago. Quarterly net profit rose 7.3 per cent to $3.5-million and its shares slipped 17 cents to $9.60.

European bourses advanced as London's FTSE 100 gained 0.4 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX climbed 1.3 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 rose 0.7 per cent.

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