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TSX Ends Higher On Commodity Stocks, Global Cues - Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks settled higher Friday boosted by commodity stocks, strong earnings and global equity markets, notwithstanding some disappointing data indicating a slowdown in U.S. economy growth. Investors largely ignored eurozone concerns after Spain's sovereign debt rating was downgraded by two notches.

Earlier today, rating agency Standard & Poor's cut Spain's sovereign credit rating by two notches to BBB+ from A on concerns that the nation will have to provide further fiscal support to the banking sector as the economy contracts. Nevertheless, most European markets ignored the downgrade to end higher.

Toronto's main index, the S&P/TSX, closed Friday at 12,237.75, up 91.90 points or 0.76 percent. The S&P/TSX Composite Index touched an intraday high of 12,248.07 and a low of 12,139.68.

The TSX gained about 1.9 percent for the week.

The TSX Venture Index closed at 1,412.76, up 19.52 points or 1.40 percent. The index opened at 1,409.21 compared to its previous close of 1,393.24.

Almost all indices of the S&P/TSX Index were in positive territory, with the exception of the the Industrials Index which was down slightly.

The Metals & Mining Index gained 0.46 percent with Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) down 1.62 percent. Belo Sun Mining Corp. (BSX.TO) moved up 7 percent, while Teck Resources Limited (TCK_B.TO) gained 0.30 percent.

Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for June delivery, gained $0.38 or 0.4 percent to close at $104.93 a barrel on the NYMEX Friday.

The Energy Index gained 1.03 percent with Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) up 3.76 percent and Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. (ATH.TO) surging 7.38 percent. Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ.TO) added 2.30 percent, while Suncor Energy Inc. added 0.57 percent. Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM.TO) gained 0.46 percent.

International oil company Petrominerales (PMG.TO) plunged over 17.66 percent after providing operational update at its Deep Llanos Basin, Colombia

Crude oil and gas transportation company TransCanada Corp. (TRP.TO) edged up 0.14 percent, despite posting lower first-quarter earnings of C$363 million or C$0.52 per share versus C$423 million or C$0.61 per share last year. Analysts expected earnings of C$0.54 per share for the quarter.

Energy sector business solutions provider Canadian Utilities (CU.TO) added 1.56 percent after reporting improved first quarter earnings of C$193 million or C$1.45 per share, while analysts expected C$1.37 per share.

Independent power producer Capital Power Corp. (CPX.TO) gathered 2.06 percent after its first quarter profit rose to C$40 million or C$0.64 per share. Normalized earnings were C$0.46 per share versus C$0.34 per share a year ago. Analysts expected earnings of C$0.34 per share for the quarter

Gold for June delivery gained $4.30 or 0.3 percent to close at $1,664.80 an ounce Friday on the NYMEX. The Global Gold Index advanced 1.13 percent.

Among gold stocks, Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) up 1.48 percent, while Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD.TO) gained 0.71 percent. Lake Shore Gold Corp. (LSG.TO) surged 8.89 percent, while Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) gained 1.40 percent.

Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) surged 9.64 percent after reporting an increase in first-quarter net income. The company's adjusted net income of $101.4 million or $0.59 per share came in better than analysts' expectation of C$0.37 per share.

Iamgold (IMG.TO) slipped 1.29 percent after announcing that it would acquire Trelawney Mining and Exploration Inc. (TRR.V), a junior mining and exploration company, for $3.30 cash for each share.

The Materials Index moved up 0.91 percent, with Mercator Minerals Ltd. (ML.TO) gaining 1.65 percent. Uranium One Inc. (UUU.TO) shed 0.70 percent, while Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) dropped 0.95 percent.

Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIM.TO) was down 0.79 percent, while transportation systems maker Bombardier (BBD.B.TO) dropped 1.69 percent.

Base-metals miner Inmet Mining Corp. (IMN.TO) gained over 2 percent after reporting first quarter net income of C$96.14 million or C$1.39 per share, up from C$59.41 million or C$0.97 per share in the prior year quarter.

The Financial Index gained 0.79 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) up 0.78 percent, Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) up 1.0 percent, and The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) gaining 1.04 percent.

Transportation and logistics services TransForce Inc. (TFI.TO) edged up 0.28 percent after reporting a much improved first-quarter net income. Adjusted net income of C$24.7 million or C$0.25 per share, compares with analysts expectations of C$0.26 per share.

Entertainment technology company IMAX Corp. (IMX.TO) swung to profit in first quarter 2012, with adjusted earnings of $4.0 million or $0.06 per share higher than last year. Analysts expected earnings of C$0.07 per share for the quarter. The stock dropped 0.95 percent.

In economic news from south of the border, the U.S. Commerce Department's initial estimate of growth in the economy showed a 2.2 percent growth rate, down from the 3 percent growth posted for the final quarter of 2011. Most economists expected the growth in the economy to drop from the 3 percent rate in the fourth quarter of 2011 though many had forecast a somewhat stronger 2.5 percent growth rate.

U.S. consumer sentiment for April showed an unexpected improvement compared to the previous month, revised data from Reuters and the University of Michigan showed on Friday. The report indicated consumer sentiment index for April at 76.4 compared to the mid-month reading of 75.7. Economists had been expecting a much more modest upward revision to a reading of 75.8.

From the eurozone, German consumer sentiment is set to deteriorate next month, a survey by market research group GfK showed. The forward-looking consumer confidence index dropped to 5.6 in May from a revised value of 5.8 in April. Economists were expecting a level of 5.9.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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