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TSX Ends Slightly Lower; Gains 0.2% For Week - Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks closed marginally lower Friday, dragged down mostly by resource stocks even as some positive economic data from Europe helped soften the downtrend. Toronto stocks reacted positively to some good earnings report and as well at the U.S. equity markets, largely ignoring concerns over the eurozone debt problems that was evident in the last two sessions.

Toronto's main index, the S&P/TSX, closed Friday at 12,147.28, down 6.41 points or 0.05 percent. The S&P/TSX Composite Index touched an intraday high of 12,227.99 and a low of 12,142.62. The Index was up 0.23 percent for the week.

The TSX Venture Index closed at 1,398.09, up 1.32 points or 0.09 percent. The index opened at 1,404.61 compared to its previous close of 1,396.77.

Stocks in the U.S. have moved mostly higher over the course of the day. Much of the strength on Wall Street was attributed to upbeat earnings from some big names such as Microsoft (MSFT), General Electric (GE), and McDonald's (MCD).

Major components of the S&P/TSX Index were in the red, led by the Diversified Metals & Mining Index that dropped over 1 percent. Among gainers were the Industrial, and Real Estate indices.

Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for May delivery, gained $1.23 or 0.8 percent to close at $103.05 a barrel on the NYMEX Friday.

The Energy Index dropped 0.07 percent with Bankers Petroleum Ltd. (BNK.TO) shedding 1.09 percent, Suncor Energy Inc. dropping 1.37 percent, and Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ.TO) edging down 0.47 percent. Aurora Oil & Gas Limited (AEF.TO) gained 2.72 percent, and ARC Resources Ltd. (ARX.TO) gathered 3.84 percent.

Gold for June delivery gained $1.40 or 0.1 percent to close at $1,642.80 an ounce Friday on the NYMEX. The Global Gold Index dropped 1.06 percent.

Among gold stocks, Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD.TO) shed 2.40 percent, while B2Gold Corp. (BTO.TO) gained 5.62 percent. Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) shed 1.94 percent and Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) dropped 1.21 percent.

Smartphone maker Research In Motion (RIM.TO) was down 1.19 percent, while transportation systems maker Bombardier (BBD.B.TO) was down 0.24 percent.

The Materials Index dropped 0.73 percent, with Uranium One Inc. (UUU.TO) shed 0.68 percent, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) up 1.07 percent. First Uranium Corp. (FIU.TO) jumped over 31 percent, making up after a 36 percent decline yesterday following the announcement of lower gold sales for the fourth quarter 2012.

The Financial Index shed 0.23 percent, led by the Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) edged down 0.12 percent, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) was down 0.54 percent. The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) was marginally up 0.01 percent.

The Metals & Mining Index declined 1.33 percent, with First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.TO) down 2.74 percent, while Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) moved up 2.63 percent. Cline Mining Corporation (CMK.TO) gained 4.21 percent.

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO) reported a first-quarter net profit of C$142 million or C$0.82 per share, compared to C$34 million or C$0.20 per share a year ago. Both earnings per share and revenues topped analysts' expectations. Nonetheless, the company's proxy war with its largest shareholder Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management LP, has taken much of the limelight.

Thomson Reuters Corp. (TRI.TO) gained 1.52 percent after unvieling its Direct Intelligence Service for Insurance package for live regulatory information related to insurance compliance to manage risk.

From Europe, business sentiment in Germany improved unexpectedly for April on rising optimism among manufacturers, shrugging off concerns about the debt crisis. Marking the sixth consecutive monthly rise, business confidence rose to a 9-month high of 109.9 in April from 109.8 in March, a survey by Munich-based Ifo institute showed Friday. Economists had forecast the indicator to fall to 109.5.

In U.K., retail sales logged a better-than-expected expansion in March, boosting hopes of good economic growth in the first quarter. Including automotive fuel, retail sales volume grew 1.8 percent month-on-month, recovering from February's 0.8 percent drop, data from the Office for National Statistics showed Friday. The rate of growth topped the 0.5 percent rise forecast by economists and marked the biggest rise since January 2011.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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