TSX flat amid mixed earnings

The Toronto stock market was little changed Wednesday as investors look to earnings reports and an expected vote later in the day on raising the U.S. debt ceiling.The S&P/TSX composite index declined 1.91 points to 12,822.72 while the TSX Venture Exchange edged up 2.28 points to 1,243.35.The Canadian dollar dropped 0.48 of a cent at 100.26 cents US after the Bank of Canada announced it is keeping a key rate unchanged at one per cent. The central bank also said economic growth has been weaker than expected and indicated that the anticipated need to raise rates is now less imminent.The change in the guidance from last month likely means the central bank won’t move to tighten borrowing costs until some time in 2014 or until it has more compelling evidence the Canadian economy is ready to re-engage.U.S. indexes were mainly higher with the Dow Jones industrials up 56.49 points to 13,768.7, the Nasdaq rose 10.31 points to 3,153.49 and the S&P 500 index slipped 1.27 points to 1,491.29.The House of Representatives is set to vote on a motion to increase the U.S. $16.4 trillion borrowing ceiling for three months. Without congressional action, the Treasury — sometime in late February or early March — will not have enough money to pay all of its obligations, raising the risk of a first-ever default on the government’s debts.In Toronto, Celestica (TSX:CLS) reported a sharp drop in fourth-quarter profits as the  electronics manufacturer was hit by restructuring and other charges and lower revenue as it wound down work for Research In Motion. Its shares dipped four cents to $8.52 even as president and chief executive officer Craig Muhlhauser assured analysts on a conference call there is a plan to improve profit this yearIn the U.S., McDonald’s reported Wednesday that quarterly earnings were US$1.38 a share, five cents better than analysts’ forecasts. Revenue of US$6.95 billion beat projections of $6.889 billion but its shares were off six cents to US$92.91 as the world’s biggest hamburger chain also warned that a key sales figure is expected to drop this month.After the close Tuesday, IBM handed in results that beat for earnings and revenue. Earnings per share for the quarter were $5.39, versus the $5.25 that analysts expected. Revenue came in at $29.3 billion against the 29.09 expected and IBM shares gained 5.72 per cent to $207.28.Google’s fourth-quarter earnings rose seven per cent to nearly $2.9 billion, or $8.62 cents per share. If not for the costs of employee stock compensation and certain other accounting items, Google said it would have earned. $10.65 per share. On that basis, Google exceeded the average earnings estimate of $10.54 among analysts surveyed by FactSet. Revenue surged 36 per cent from the previous year to $14.4 billion and its stock ran ahead 5.66 per cent to $742.67.A major decliner in New York was luxury handbag seller Coach Inc. Its shares plunged 14 per cent after it said a challenging economy and heavy price-cutting by competitors weighed on its fiscal second-quarter results. Net income was $352.7 million, or $1.23 per share, while net sales rose four per cent to $1.50 billion. The results were short of expectations for earnings of $1.28 per share on revenue of $1.6 billion.Traders will take in earnings from Apple Inc. on Wednesday.The gold sector led TSX decliners while February bullion on the New York Mercantile Exchange ticked $1.60 lower to US$1,691.60 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) faded 29 cents to C$37.74 while Iamgold (TSX:IMG) ran down nine per cent to $9.80.The base metals component fell 0.37 per cent as March copper was unchanged at US$3.70 a pound. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) was down 38 cents to $20.54. Retail stocks led the consumer discretionary component lower as Quebec-based convenience store owner Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B) gave back 99 cents to $47.99.The telecom sector was the major advancer with Telus Corp. (TSX:T) ahead 42 cents to $64.98.The energy sector was up 0.2 per cent with the March crude contract up one cent to US$96.69 a barrel.European bourses were mixed with London’s FTSE 100 index up 0.06 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was down 0.14 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 declined 0.55 per cent. Earlier in Asia, Japanese stocks reacted negatively for a second day to the central bank’s plans for shoring up the economy.The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo tumbled 2.1 per cent a day after the Bank of Japan set its target inflation rate at two per cent and said it would undertake open-ended asset purchases starting in 2014. Some analysts said investors were disappointed that the central bank didn’t take more aggressive measures.South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.8 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.1 per cent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 bucked the trend, rising 0.2 per cent.In other corporate news, Aurizon Mines Ltd. (TSX:ARZ) is urging shareholders reject a $780-million hostile takeover bid by Alamos Gold Inc. (TSX:AGI), which is offering a combination of cash and shares. The junior miner’s board also says it has adopted a shareholder rights plan to defend against the hostile offer and help give it time to find alternatives. Aurizon shares were off unchanged at $4.74 while Alamos shares were up three cents to $15.98.

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