Snapping their four-session losing streak, Canadian stocks were hovering in positive territory Friday morning even as hopes of imminent monetary easing measures from the U.S. diminished after the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did not explicitly signal any such move.
However, positive economic data from both sides of the border and bottom fishing at lower levels helped stocks stay afloat.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 47.71 points or 0.40 percent to 11,934.36, after losing nearly 200 points or nearly 2 percent in the past four sessions.
Financial stocks were in focus, with the Financial Index adding about 0.50 percent. Laurentian Bank (LB.TO) rose nearly 2 percent after reporting a marginally higher third quarter net income of C$26.83 million or C$1.06 per share compared to C$25.97 million or C$1.08 per share for the third quarter of 2011. Excluding Transaction and Integration costs, net income was C$35.3 million or C$1.27 per share for the third quarter. Further, the bank declared a quarterly dividend of C$0.47 per share.
National Bank (NA.TO) edged up 0.25 percent after reporting improved third quarter net income of C$360 million or C$2.14 per share compared to C$318 million or C$1.87 per share in the year ago quarter. Excluding specified items, net income was C$334 million or C$1.98 per share up from C$316 million or C$1.86 per share in the in the third quarter of 2011. Analysts were expecting the bank to report earnings of C$1.90 per share. The bank declared a dividend of $0.79 per common share.
Canadian Western Bank (CWB.TO) said that its long-serving President and CEO Larry Pollock has given up his role as President, but will maintain the title of CEO until he steps down on March 7, 2013. The stock was up nearly 2 percent.
The price of crude oil was moving higher Friday morning, with crude for October gaining $1.20 to $95.82 a barrel.
In the oil patch, MEG Energy (MEG.TO) and Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) gathered over 1 percent each.
The price of gold was steady near its four-month high, with gold for December adding $15.20 to $1,672.30 an ounce.
Among gold plays, Seabridge Gold (SEA.TO) rose over 3 percent. Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO), Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) and Goldcorp. (G.TO) were up nearly 2 percent each.
Meanwhile, Detour Gold (DGC.TO) lost over 5 percent.
Communications services provider Mitel Networks Corp. (MNW.TO) reported a narrower first quarter net loss of $2.1 million or $0.04 per share, compared to a loss of $2.8 million or $0.05 per share in the prior year. Excluding items, the company's adjusted income for the quarter was $4.5 million or $0.08 per share, compared to $8.5 million or $0.15 per share in the year ago period. Analysts expected the company to report earnings of $0.14 per share for the first quarter. The stock dived about 8 percent.
In economic news, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.5 percent in the second quarter, inline with the pace of the two previous quarters. Business investment contributed the most to second-quarter GDP growth. Final domestic demand grew 0.4 percent. On a monthly basis, real GDP by industry advanced 0.2 percent in June. However, on an annualized rate real GDP expanded 1.8 percent in the second quarter, beating consensus estimates for a 1.6 percent growth.
From south of the border, a report released by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan revealed that consumer sentiment in the U.S. improved by more than previously estimated in the month of August. The report showed that the consumer sentiment index for August was upwardly revised to 74.3 from the mid-month reading of 73.6. Economists had expected the index to be unrevised from the preliminary reading, which already reflected an increase from the 72.3 recorded in July.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Commerce said factory orders rose by 2.8 percent in July. This followed a decline of 0.5 percent in the previous month. Economists had expected factory orders to rise by 2.0 percent
Elsewhere, euro zone inflation accelerated to 2.6 percent in August from 2.4 percent in July, flash estimate issued by Eurostat showed. The rate was forecast to rise to 2.5 percent. The central bank aims to retain inflation rates below, but close to, 2 percent over the medium term. The final report for August is due on September 14.
Meanwhile, Germany's retail sales decreased from the previous month in July, defying economists' forecast for an increase, data released by the Federal Statistical Office revealed. Retail sales turnover decreased 0.9 percent month-on-month in July, reversing the previous month's 0.5 percent increase. Economists were looking for a 0.2 percent growth.
by RTT Staff Writer
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