Toronto stock market advances amid positive U.S., Chinese data, earnings misses

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market registered a solid advance Thursday as resource sectors benefited from signs of a recovering Chinese manufacturing sector. But the market was held back by earnings disappointments in the telecom and mining sectors.

Overall market sentiment also got a lift from American data showing a better-than-expected reading for consumer confidence and strength in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 76.85 points to 12,499.76 while the TSX Venture Exchange added 6.81 points to 1,321.29.

“It looks like the housing market has bottomed, manufacturing seems to be picking up in different areas of the world, so there’s encouraging stuff there,” said Gareth Watson, vice-president of Investment Management and Research at Richardson GMP Ltd.

“But eventually that will take time to flow through to corporate earnings as well.”

The Canadian dollar shook off early losses to move up 0.22 of a cent at 100.32 cents US.

U.S. markets racked up solid gains as the Dow Jones industrials closed up 136.16 points to 13,232.62, the Nasdaq composite index gained 42.83 points to 3,020.06 and the S&P 500 index rose 15.43 points to 1,427.59.

The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index increased in October to 72.2, the highest level in almost five years.

Consumers were more confident after seeing better job growth, the report noted.

And a day before the U.S. non-farm payrolls report is released, payroll firm ADP said that the American private sector created 158,000 jobs in October. Economists had estimated the U.S. created about 120,000 jobs last month.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management says its index of factory activity rose last month to 51.7, up from September’s reading of 51.5. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

There was also some rare good news for the global economy as the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing’s monthly purchasing managers index improved to 50.2 from 49.8 in September. Numbers above 50 on the 100-point scale indicate activity is expanding.

Economic growth fell to a 3 1/2 year low of 7.6 per cent in the quarter ended in September but other indicators, including retail sales and investment, improved.

“The improvement in both measures reinforces our expectation that China’s growth will pick up in Q4, ending a seven-quarter streak of slowing activity,” said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Benjamin Reitzes.

Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) weighed on the Toronto market, moving down $3.83 or 9.48 per cent to $36.56. Barrick’s third-quarter profit missed expectations as revenue fell amid lower gold prices. Net income before adjustments fell to US$620 million or 62 cents per share, less than half what Barrick earned at the same time last year. Its adjusted EPS was 85 cents per share, 15 cents short of expectations.

December bullion slipped $3.60 to US$1,715.50 an ounce and the gold sector lost about two per cent.

The telecom sector was also lower as BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) said its net income in the third quarter dropped to $569 million and adjusted net earnings fell to $588 million, or 76 cents per share. The adjusted EPS was a penny below estimates. BCE’s revenue was just under $5 billion, compared with about $4.9 billion a year earlier. Most of that came from Bell Canada, BCE’s main subsidiary. BCE shares were down 51 cents to $43.15.

Metal prices advanced in the wake of the Chinese PMI data with December copper up three cents to US$3.55 a pound and the base metals sector was ahead 4.8 per cent. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) ran ahead $1.88 or almost six per cent to $33.58.

But shares in uranium miner Cameco (TSX:CCO) fell 97 cents or five per cent to $18.40 after it reported quarterly net earnings of $82 million or 21 cents per share, compared with $39 million or 10 cents per share for the same period a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings were $52 million or 13 cents per share compared with $104 million or 26 cents per share in 2011. Quarterly revenue came in at $408 million, compared to $527 million a year ago. Analysts expected profit of 27 cents per share and $562.3 million in revenue.

Cameco also reduced its long-term production target to 36 million pounds of annual supply by 2018, down from 40 million pounds a year, due to ongoing market uncertainty following last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Meanwhile, oil prices rose as refineries in the storm-hit northeastern United States restarted.

The December crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up 85 cents at US$87.09 a barrel.

The energy sector climbed 1.34 per cent as Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO) said higher margins at its refineries were the main reason for a 21 per cent jump in its third-quarter profit, handily beating analysts’ expectations.

Net income rose to $1.04 billion or $1.22 per diluted share, compared to $859 million or $1.01 a share for the same period last year. Imperial’s shares climbed $1.36 to C$45.55.

In other corporate news, TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) plans to invest about US$1 billion in a new natural gas pipeline in Mexico. The pipeline giant has been awarded a contract to build, own and operate the pipeline by Mexico’s federal power company, the Commission Federal de Electricidad or CFE. Its shares were up 32 cents to $45.29.

Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) was a major gainer, up 80 cents or 10.15 per cent to $8.68 on a heavy volume of 6.7 million shares. The jump added to a 3.7 per cent rise Wednesday after it said its new BlackBerry smartphones are being tested by 50 phone carriers around the world, another step towards their release next year.