Canadian stocks were little changed Thursday morning amid flat commodities and a mixed batch of earnings reports from major companies. Also, disappointing U.S. jobless claims data and weak European sentiment weighed on trader sentiment.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index eased 8.21 points or 0.07 percent to 12,102.85, a day after snapping its three-session losing streak.
TransGlobe Apartment Real Estate Investment Trust (TGA_UN.TO) soared over 15 percent to C$14.27 after it said it has entered into an acquisition agreement with PD Kanco LP and Starlight Investments Ltd., pursuant to which holders of REIT trust units will be entitled to receive $14.25 in cash for each unit through a combination of a special cash distribution and redemption proceeds.
In the commodity markets, crude for June delivery edged up $0.58 to $104.07 a barrel.
In the oil patch, energy services company Mullen Group (MTL.TO) rose over 5 percent after reporting higher first-quarter net income of $58.8 million or $0.73 per share compared to $48.3 million or $0.61 per share last year. However, excluding certain one time items, adjusted earnings jumped to $54 million or $0.67 per share from $34 million or $0.43 per share a year ago. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $0.51 per share.
Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) gained over 5 percent. Yesterday, the company reported first-quarter net earnings of $12 million or $0.02 per share, as against a loss of $361 million last year.
Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) said first quarter profit rose to C$1.02 billion or C$1.19 per share from C$781 million or C$0.91 per share last year. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $1.00 per share. The stocks eased 0.25 percent.
Among base-metals stocks, First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) was down close to 3 percent, while Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) was adding 3 percent even after reporting first-quarter net income of $58.3 million or $0.10 per share, lower than $71.2 million or $0.12 per share in the prior-year quarter.
The price of gold was moving higher Thursday morning as the US dollar was trading weak. Gold for June gained $14.70 to $1,657.00 an ounce.
In the gold space, Goldcorp. (G.TO) shed nearly 6 percent after reporting a lower first quarter net earnings of $479 million or $0.51 per share compared to $651 million or $0.81 per share a year ago. However, adjusted net earnings increased to $404 million or $0.50 per share compared to $392 million or $0.49 per basic share. Analysts were expecting the gold miner to report earnings of $0.54 per share.
Paper products company Domtar Corp. (UFS.TO) dived over 6 percent after it said its first-quarter profit fell sharply from a year ago period, missing analysts' estimates.
Fertilizer maker Potash Corp. (POT.TO) was down nearly 3 percent after reporting a sharp fall in its first quarter net income to $491 million or $0.56 per share from $732 million or $0.84 per share last year. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $0.63 per share. Further, the company lowered its full-year 2012 earnings per share guidance to $3.20 - $3.60 from its prior view of $3.40 - $4.00, while analysts project 2012 earnings per share of $3.64.
In economic news from south of the border, the U.S. Labor Department said new unemployment claims for the week ending April 21, came in at a seasonally adjusted level of 388,000. That marks a marginal drop of 1,000 new claims from the previous week's revised level of 389,000, which itself was revised up from the 386,000 initially reported. Most economists had forecast a somewhat significant drop in the level of new claims, predicting the figure would fall to roughly 375,000.
Meanwhile, pending home sales in the U.S. rose by much more than anticipated in the month of March, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors. NAR said its pending home sales index rose 4.1 percent to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February. Economists had expected a much more modest 1.0 percent increase.
Elsewhere, euro zone economic confidence declined more than expected to 92.8 in April from revised 94.5 in March, according to European Commission survey results. Economists were forecasting the index to drop to 94.2. The decline in the euro area was mainly driven by weakening confidence in the industry and services sectors. Confidence improved only in the retail sector.
According to preliminary data from Federal Statistical Office, Germany's EU harmonized annual inflation slowed in April. The harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP) advanced 2.2 percent annually in April, in line with economists' forecast. In March, the year-on-year rate of growth was 2.3 percent. On a monthly basis, the HICP advanced 0.2 percent in April, after rising 0.4 percent in the previous month. Economists were looking for a 0.1 percent rise.
by RTT Staff Writer
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