TSX ekes out gain as Manulife, Catamaran climb

John Tilak
May 1, 2014
A Bay Street sign is seen in the heart of the financial district in Toronto
A Bay Street sign is seen in the heart of the financial district in Toronto, August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index edged higher on Thursday as gains in Manulife Financial Corp and Catamaran Corp helped offset a decline in shares of Bombardier Inc after those companies reported results.

Goldcorp Inc , one of the world's biggest gold miners, also unveiled a quarterly statement which showed a decline in profit. The stock was little changed.

The Toronto stock market's benchmark index climbed to its highest level in nearly six years earlier in the session. On Wednesday, investors cheered upbeat commentary on the U.S. economy by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. The U.S. central bank also further trimmed its monthly bond buying stimulus.

The index is up about 7.5 percent this year and has gained in each of the last 10 months.

"We've done very well. The market may back and fill for a while," said David Cockfield, managing director and portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management.

"I continue to see the TSX in better shape than the U.S. market," he added. "I'm positive on Canada because I like the multiples."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> unofficially closed up 12.20 points, or 0.08 percent, at 14,664.07. Five of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.

A drop in the price of oil weighed on shares of energy producers, which shed 0.3 percent. Encana Corp gave back 1.5 percent to C$25.02.

"People are concerned that the energy stocks have run up too far, too fast," said Cockfield, who notes that these declines could open up opportunities for investors to add to their energy holdings.

Gold-mining shares reflected weakness in the price of bullion. Barrick Gold Corp slipped 1.9 percent to C$18.77.

Several major Canadian companies reported quarterly results.

Manulife climbed 0.8 percent, to C$20.74, after the insurer's first-quarter profit surged more than 50 percent as a stronger investment performance and higher wealth management fees more than offset weaker insurance sales.

Shares of rival Sun Life Financial Inc advanced 0.5 percent to C$37.27.

Catamaran shot up 11.8 percent to C$46.56 after the pharmacy benefits manager reported a sharp jump in profit and revenue.

Bombardier reported slightly weaker-than-expected results, prompting some analysts to express concerns about the aircraft and train maker's cash burn rate as it continues to pour money into its CSeries aircraft program. The stock tumbled 5.9 percent to C$4.15.

Resolute Forest Products Inc posted a bigger first-quarter loss after an abnormally cold winter made power more expensive and disrupted shipments of specialty paper and pulp. The stock lost 7.6 percent to C$18.06.

(Editing by Peter Galloway and Chris Reese)