TSX gains on stronger commodities

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market rose in early trading as commodities prices moved higher amid a long list of financial reports from major Canadian companies.The S&P/TSX composite index was up 35.02 points at 11,816.06, while the TSX Venture Exchange slipped 0.27 of a point to 1,185.41.The Canadian dollar was at 100.68 cents US, up 0.14 of a cent.The TSX energy sector led the way, up 1.2%. Canadian Natural Resources shares gained 5%, or $1.53, to $31.10, after it said profits fell sharply in the second quarter to $753 million from $929 million on lower prices.The September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up 58 cents to US$93.93 a barrel.On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average decreased 20.20 points to 13,195.84 and the broader S&P increased 2.07 points to 1,404.29. The Nasdaq gained 8.38 points to 3,019.63.The U.S. Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 361,000, a level consistent with modest gains in hiring. The less volatile four-week average rose by 2,250 to 368,250 in the week that ended Aug. 4.September copper contracts moved down 0.4 of a cent to US$3.418 a pound while December gold dropped $1.30 to US$1,614.70 an ounce.In the retail sector, supermarket operator Metro Inc. says profits were $144.4 million in its fiscal third quarter, above analyst estimates. Revenue for the quarter was up 3.8% to $3.7 billion. Shares were up 79 cents to $57.31.Tim Hortons Inc. posted a 13.1% increase in earnings to $108.1 million or 69 cents per share, up from $95.5 million or 58 cents per share in the same year-earlier period. Revenue rose 11.8% to $785.6 million. Its shares dropped $1.31 to $50.97Quebecor Inc. net profit rose 21% to $67 million, or $1.05 per basic share. The company’s overall revenue increased by $33 million to just under $1.09 billion. The company’s shares were up 10 cents to $35.35.In financials, interest rate conditions have left a mark on some Canadian firms.Manulife Financial Corp. posted a $300 million net loss in the second quarter from challenging equity markets and the interest rate environment, a stark contrast to the $1.2 billion profit the previous quarter and a $490 million profit in the second quarter of 2011. Losses were 18 cents per share, down from a profit of 26 cents per share a year earlier. After the report, its shares were off two cents to $10.85.Sun Life Financial Inc. reported late Wednesday that second-quarter profits dropped 88% to $51 million, or nine cents per diluted share, from $408 million, or 68 cents per diluted share, in the 2011 period. Revenue grew to $6.05 billion from $5.15 billion, largely due to gains in the fair value of certain financial instruments. Its shares dropped 55 cents to $21.22.Concern about the global economy has come back into focus this week after a brief upswing in optimism earlier this week.In China, hopes are that monetary authorities will do more to shore up economic growth in the world’s second largest economy.With inflation in China falling to 1.8% in July from the previous month’s 2.2%, expectations are rising that Beijing may ease monetary policy to boost economic growth, which has slowed sharply this year. Separate figures on industrial production and retail sales confirmed the slowdown.In Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 0.8% at 6,912 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.2% to 3,445. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was off 0.1% at 5,844.Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.1% to close at 8.978.60. During the session, the Nikkei had surpassed the 9,000 level for the first time since July 6.South Korea’s Kospi jumped 2% to 1,940.59. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1% to 20,269.47. On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6% to 2,174.10. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index added 1.5% to 909.69. read more