Toronto stock market closes flat amid earnings news, strong manufacturing data

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TORONTO – The Toronto stock market hardly changed Thursday despite encouraging Chinese manufacturing data and strong earnings reports.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 0.07 of a point to 15,394.45 as China’s manufacturing rose in July to its highest level in 18 months. The preliminary HSBC purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.0 in July from 50.7 in June. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The Canadian dollar declined 0.14 of a cent to 93.07 cents US.

U.S. markets also stalled as traders also digested data showing new home sales in the United States plunged 8.1 per cent last month.

The Dow Jones industrials dipped 2.83 two points to 17,083.8, the Nasdaq gave back 1.59 points to 4,472.11 and the S&P 500 index edged up 0.97 of a point to 1,987.98.

Meanwhile, investors waded through a deluge of earnings reports.

In Canada, Teck Resources Limited (TSX:TCK.B) reported a second-quarter net profit of $80 million, or 14 cents share, compared with $143 million, or 25 cents per share, a year ago. Adjusted profit, excluding items, was $72 million, or 13 cents per share, a penny better than estimates and its shares ran up 32 cents to $25.94.

However, one big reason for the improvement at the Vancouver-based minings company was a cost cutting program launched two years ago that Teck said has exceeded its initial goals.

“What we are seeing is bottom line growth and a lot of cost cutting, slimming down,” said Allan Small, senior adviser at HollisWealth.

“So, hopefully we’ll see topline growth as emerging economies continue to rebound,” Small said.

Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L) posted a net quarterly loss of $456 million, or $1.13 per share, with results hit by costs involving the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart. Adjusted earnings of 75 cents a share beat estimates by eight cents a share and its stock advanced 55 cents to $51.89.

Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) reported second-quarter net income of $405 million, or 76 cents per diluted share, down 24 per cent from the same quarter of 2013. Rogers shares gained 48 cents to $42.88 as its adjusted net income was $432 million, or 84 cents, which met expectations.

In the U.S., there were major disappointments as recall costs chopped $1.5 billion from General Motors’ bottom line in the second quarter, cutting its net income by 85 per cent to $190 million, or 11 cents per share. GM shares fell 4.46 per cent to US$35.74.

Construction equipment maker Caterpillar fell 3.08 per cent, to $105.04 as quarterly profit rose 4.1 per cent, which beat expectations. However, its revenue fell short of forecasts.

The tech sector led advancers, up 1.4 per cent while BlackBerry gained 61 cents or 5.79 per cent to $11.15 after the Financial Times reported the company is in talks with rival technology groups about partnerships to compete with the newly forged alliance between Apple and IBM.

The base metals rose 0.5 per cent as the Chinese manufacturing data sent September copper up six cents to US$3.27 a pound.

The energy sector slipped 0.11 per cent, while September crude declined $1.05 to US$102.07 a barrel.

The gold sector was the biggest decliner, down about 1.45 per cent while August gold faded $13.90 to US$1,290.80 an ounce.

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