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Closing Bell TSX closes higher amid slew of earnings Fed says growth

TORONTO — Strong earnings reports from the consumer and information technology sectors helped push the Toronto stock market higher Thursday.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 14,651.87+68.76 0.47%S&P 500 —  1,883.95+5.62 0.30%Dow — 16,580.84+45.47 0.27%Nasdaq — 4,114.56 +11.01 0.27%The S&P/TSX composite index gained 68.76 points to 14,651.87.The Canadian dollar was down 0.08 of a cent at 91.24 cents US.U.S. indexes were higher as the Federal Reserve wrapped its two-day interest rate meeting and judged the American economy strong enough to allow further easing of the central bank’s bond purchases, cutting the monthly purchases by another $10 billion to $45 billion.The Fed also reaffirmed its plan to keep short-term interest rates low to support the economy “for a considerable time” after its bond purchases end, likely late this year.It also said that growth in economic activity has picked up recently.That assessment came on the same day that data came out showing U.S. economic growth for the first quarter fell far short of expectations as a result of severe winter weather. Gross domestic product grew by only 0.1%, against the 1.2% annualized gain that had been expected.The Dow Jones industrials climbed 45.47 points to a fresh record high close of 16,580.84, the Nasdaq gained 11.02 points to 4,114.56 while the S&P 500 index rose 5.62 points to 1,883.95.It was a heavy day for Canadian earnings news as Loblaw Cos. Ltd. (TSX:L) said adjusted net earnings went up by 3.7% to $139 million or 49 cents a share in the first quarter, beating estimates of 46 cents. The grocer also boosted its dividend about 2.1% to 24.5 cents a share and its stock was up $1.85 or 4% to $47.65.Analysts note the positive showing comes after the company spent heavily in recent years on consultants and IT groups to put in systems to better track inventory.“So for the last two or three years, they were running kind of below expectations because of that heavy spending,” said Wes Mills, chief investment officer Scotia Private Client Group.“And that’s all behind them now, so they’re clearly better able to execute and then increasingly the focus now is on their acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart as well.”Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) posted a steep drop in its first-quarter adjusted net earnings to US$238 million, or 20 cents per share, from US$923 million, or 92 cents per share a year ago due to a decrease in metal prices and lower gold sales volumes.Results beat analyst estimates by a penny. Revenues were US$2.6 billion compared with $3.4 billion for the comparable year-earlier period. Its shares dipped 22 cents to C$19.13 amid lower gold prices Wednesday.The information technology sector also lifted the TSX after IT services company CGI Group (TSX:GIB.A) said adjusted net earnings were up 28.6% at $229.6 million, or 72 cents per diluted share, beating analysts’ expectations of 68 cents and its shares jumped $1.44 or 3.78% to $39.52. Revenues were up 7% to $2.7 billion.The TSX base metals sector edged 0.58% higher while July copper moved five cents lower to US$3.03 a pound. The energy sector was down 0.65 cent with June crude in New York losing $1.54 to US$99.74 a barrel.The gold sector declined 0.79% as June bullion ticked 40 cents lower to US$1,295.90 an ounce.In the U.S., Twitter shares plunged 9.13% in New York. The social networking site’s quarterly earnings and revenue surpassed analyst expectations but investors were disappointed over Twitter’s growth in users, which came in at 255 million monthly users, about two million lower than analyst consensus.TOP STORIESU.S. Fed cuts bond buying by US$10-billion, saying economy has picked upOttawa mulls Keystone XL challenge under NAFTA after U.S. dodges decision againGap between Canada’s oil-rich west and struggling east becoming a yawning chasmThe U.S. economy barely grew at all in the first quarterHockey matters! NHL’s hiatus takes a bite out of Canada’s GDPWHAT’S ON DECK THURSDAYCANADA9:30 a.m.RBC Manufacturing PMI (April) UNITED STATES8:30 a.m.Weekly jobless claims: Economists expect 320,000 new claims Personal income and consumption: Economists expect 0.4% rise in income, 0.6% rise in spending 8:45 a.m.Markit manufacturing PMI (April): Economists expect a reading of 55.4, flat with last month 10 a.m.ISM Index (April): Economists expect reading of 54.3, up from last month Construction spending (March): Economists expect 0.5% rise CORPORATE NEWSCANADAAgnico Eagle Mines Ltd    Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 23¢ a share Bombardier Inc Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 8¢ a share Brookfield Residential Ppty Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 26¢ a share Eldorado Gold Corp     Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 4¢ a share Fairfax Financial Holdings Q1 earnings: Analysts expect $32.57 a share First Quantum Minerals Ltd Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 24¢ a share Goldcorp ‘a’ Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 14¢ a share Imperial Oil Limited    Q1 earnings: Analysts expect $1.17 a share Macdonald Dettwiler & Assoc Ltd Q1 earnings: Analysts expect $1.36 a share Manulife Financial Corp    Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 37¢ a share Maple Leaf Foods Inc Q1 earnings: Analysts expect a loss of 15¢ a share Penn West Petroleum Ltd Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 11¢ a share UNITED STATESCME Group Inc.  Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 83¢ a share ConocoPhillips  Q1 earnings: Analysts expect $1.56 a share Expedia, Inc. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 15¢ a share Kellogg Co. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 97¢ a share Kraft Foods Group Inc  Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 76¢ a share MasterCard Inc. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 72¢ a share Marathon Petroleum Corp. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect $1.06 a share Motorola Solutions, Inc. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 50¢ a share Southwestern Energy Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 62¢ a share Western Union Co.  Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 35¢ a share read more