Toronto stock market closes with modest gain; dollar down

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed with a minor gain Thursday as the market found lift from a run of positive earnings news from the big banks and the retail sector.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 12.59 points to 15,241.16. But advances were limited by falling energy stocks as a stronger U.S. dollar and rising crude inventories pushed April crude in New York down $2.82 to US$48.17 a barrel.

The Canadian dollar declined 0.67 of a U.S. cent to 79.83 cents.

New York indexes were mixed as the Dow Jones industrials declined 10.15 points to 18,214.42 and the S&P 500 was 3.12 points lower at 2,110.74, while the Nasdaq advanced 20.75 points to 4,987.89.

The TSX financials sector gained 0.6 per cent as the parade of bank earnings this week continued with results Thursday from CIBC (TSX:CM) and TD Bank (TSX:TD).

CIBC exceeded analyst expectations as adjusted quarterly net income was $956 million or $2.36 a share, beating estimates of $2.27 a share. Net earnings fell from $1.177 billion a year ago, when the bank had a one-time gain from its Aeroplan credit card business, to $923 million or $2.28 a share.

The bank also hiked its quarterly dividend by three cents a share to $1.06 and its shares ran ahead $3.01 to $95.23.

“Overall, it was a solid beat,” said Ben Jang, portfolio manager at Nicola Wealth Management.

“Unlike some other quarters where capital markets really drove earnings, there have been positives from net interest income (and) falling loan losses. They’re continuing to lead the sector in loan growth, credit quality is amazing and obviously they’re telling people with the dividend hike that these things are sustainable.”

TD shares advanced 54 cents to $54.47 as the bank earned $2.06 billion or $1.09 per diluted share for the quarter, compared with a profit of $2.04 billion or $1.07 per diluted share a year ago. Revenue of $7.61 billion exceeded forecasts of $7.1 billion while adjusted earnings were $2.12 billion or $1.12 per share, which met expectations. TD also upped its quarterly dividend by four cents to 51 cents a share.

Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L) more than doubled its fourth-quarter profit, driven by its acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart. Net income for the grocery, pharmacy and clothing retailer was $247 million or 60 cents a share. Adjusted net earnings were $396 million or 86 cents a share, while revenue was $11.4 billion, up 49 per cent from a year ago and its shares climbed 32 cents to $64.67.

Canadian Tire (TSX:CTC.A) earned $206.6 million or $2.44 per diluted share in its fourth quarter compared with a profit of $191 million or $2.32 per diluted share a year ago. Revenue totalled $3.65 billion, up from $3.33 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, which was one week shorter. Same-store sales were up 2.8 per cent at Canadian Tire and 4.9 per cent at its FGL Sports banners, including a 9.4 per cent gain at Sport Chek. Canadian Tire jumped $10.85 or 8.85 per cent to $133.34.

The metals and mining sector rose 1.12 per cent as May copper headed up five cents to US$2.69 a pound.

The gold sector was up 1.56 per cent as April gold gained $8.60 to US$1,210.10 an ounce.

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