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TSX Poised For Cautious Start - Canadian Commentary


Canadian stocks are poised for a flat open Thursday as traders might prefer to play the wait-and-watch game as they wait to hear what President Mario Draghi will say amid political jitters in Spain and Italy and the euro's sharp rise recently. Further, commodities were little changed amid cautious trade ahead of the trade and inflation data from China due to be released Friday.

Elsewhere, Asian stocks ended mostly lower overnight dragged down by Japanese and Chinese shares as investors locked in some profits following recent sharp gains.

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a flat open.

On Wednesday, the S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 15.95 points or 0.12 percent to 12,761.59.

The price of crude oil was moving higher Thursday morning as traders await cues from the trade and inflation data from China due to be released Friday. Crude for March edged up $0.04 to $96.66 a barrel.

The price of gold was ticking lower Thursday morning, with gold for April delivery shedding $2.10 to $1,676.70 an ounce.

In corporate news from Canada, smartphone maker BlackBerry Inc. (BB.TO) said it has appointed two new directors to the company's Board of Directors - Richard Lynch, retired Executive Vice President of Verizon Communications Inc. and Bert Nordberg, former Chief Executive Officer of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.

communications services provider BCE Inc. (BCE.TO) reported improved fourth-quarter net earnings of C$708 million or C$0.91 per share compared to C$486 million, or C$0.62 per share, in the year ago quarter. Adjusted earnings per share increased to C$0.65 from C$0.62 in the fourth-quarter 2011. Analysts expected the company to report earnings of C$0.66 per share for the quarter.

Insurance services provider Manulife Financial Corp. (MFC.TO) sung to profit in fourth-quarter, reporting net income of C$1.028 billion or C$0.56 per share compared to a loss C$90 million or C$0.05 per share in the same quarter last year. Core earnings for the quarter were C$537 million, up from C$373 million last year. core earnings per share for the quarter rose to C$0.28 from C$0.19 last year. Analysts expected the company to report earnings of C$0.32 per share for the quarter.

Fashion apparels company Gildan Activewear Inc. (GIL.TO) swung to profit in first quarter, reporting net earnings of $35.3 million or $0.29 per share, compared to a net loss of $46.1 million or $0.38 per share for the year-ago quarter. Excluding items, adjusted net earnings for the first quarter were $39.1 million or $0.32 per share, compared to an adjusted net loss of $45.8 million or $0.38 per share in the prior year quarter. Analysts expected the company to earn $0.30 per share. Further, the company tweaked it net sales revenues for fiscal 2013 to slightly exceed its previous guidance of about $2.1 billion.

Airlines operator Air Canada Inc. (AC_A.TO, AC_B.TO) reported fourth-quarter GAAP net income of C$8 million or C$0.03 per share, compared with a C$60 million or C$0.22 per share loss, in the 2011 fourth quarter. On an adjusted basis, net loss amounted to C$6 million or C$0.02 per share in the recent quarter.

In economic news, Statistics Canada said that the total value of building permits issued by municipalities declined 11.2 percent to $5.7 billion in December, following a 14.5 percent decline in November.

In a separate release, the agency said the New Housing Price Index (NHPI) rose 0.2 percent in December, following a 0.1 percent increase in November.

From south of the border, the U.S. Labor Department said that initial jobless claims dipped to 366,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 371,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to fall to 360,000 from the 368,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Elsewhere, the Bank of England held its key interest rate at a record-low 0.50 percent and the asset purchase at GBP 375 billion in the face of heightened inflation concerns and hopes of positive signs in the euro area underpinning the U.K. Economy.

The European Central Bank maintained its key interest rate at a record low for the seventh consecutive month in February. The main refinancing rate was kept at 0.75 percent after the meeting of the Governing Council in Frankfurt on Thursday, as expected. The previous change in interest rates was a quarter-point reduction in July 2012.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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