The Toronto stock market was slightly higher Friday near midday, buoyed by a mix of positive earnings reports in Canada and the United States and higher commodity prices.
The S&P/TSX composite index gained 12.07 points to 12,165.76, a more subdued gain that south of the border. The TSX Venture Exchange rose 8.16 points to 1,404.93.
The Canadian dollar was also higher, up 0.55 of a cent to 101.03 cents US.
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. beat analyst expectations with a $142-million profit in the first quarter, or 82 cents per share. The results came in two cents better than analysts expected, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.
The financial report comes several weeks before the company’s annual meeting, at which CP management will face its largest shareholder. Pershing Square Capital has been calling for the removal of CEO Fred Green and the installation of new representatives on the board of directors.
Shares of Canadian Pacific were down three cents to $76.
Oil prices advanced after two consecutive days of declines, which sent the TSX energy sector 0.37% higher. The May crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $1.58 to US$103.85 a barrel. Copper prices moved higher, up half a cent to US$3.68 a pound.
Bullion prices gained 60 cents to US$1,642 an ounce and the gold sector was up 0.05%.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 102 points to 13,067, the Nasdaq rose 23 points to 3,031 and the S&P 500 index was ahead nine points to 1,386.
In U.S. earnings, General Electric Co. said first-quarter profit fell 12%, although it topped Wall Street estimates when some one-time items were excluded. The company reported earnings of US$3.03 billion, or 29 cents per share, compared with $3.4 million, or 31 cents per share, for the same part of 2011. Revenue slipped by 8% to $35.2 billion.
McDonald’s Corp. reported stronger first-quarter results on better sales of its value meals and specialty drinks. The world’s biggest hamburger chain’s report was in line with analyst expectations, net income rising 7% to $1.27 billion, or $1.23 per share, in the first three months of the year. That compared with a profit of $1.21 billion, or $1.15 per share, in the year-ago period.
Oil services giant Schlumberger Ltd. said profit jumped almost 38% in the first quarter on strong drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico, north Africa and the Middle East. The Houston company, which provides a host of services for petroleum companies, reported earnings of US$1.31 billion, or 97 cents per share, for the first three months of the year. Revenue increased by nearly 22% to $10.6 billion.
Microsoft Corp. shares rose a day after the software company said fiscal third-quarter earnings declined slightly from a year earlier, but revenue rose due to stronger sales of the company’s Windows and business division products. Microsoft shares gained $1.71 to US$32.72.
In Canada, a Japanese company is investing $602 million to acquire a share of Encana Corp.’s extensive coalbed methane reserves in southern Alberta. Encana said Toyota Tsusho Corp. will acquire a 32.5% royalty interest in about 5,500 existing and future Encana coalbed methane wells. Encana shares rose a penny to $18.01.
Investors concerned over whether the eurozone will fall back into disarray were also keeping an eye on a meeting of the Group of 20 leading economies in Washington, where finance chiefs were expected to boost the resources of the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF wants to have a larger crisis arsenal to help ailing economies should the financial crisis intensify again.
Ahead of the meeting in Washington this weekend, stocks rose across Europe. Britain’s FTSE 100 inched up 0.4%. Germany’s DAX jumped 1.08% and the CAC-40 in Paris gained 0.23%.
Earlier in the day, market sentiment had been weighed down by lacklustre U.S. economic data, pulling down markets in most of Asia.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.3% to close at 9,561.36. South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.3% to 1,974.65, with the government saying that exports are likely to face headwinds in the second quarter due to Europe’s debt crisis and China’s slowdown.