Early Gains for TSX

CP Beats Street

Stocks in Toronto rose in early trading on Thursday, as Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd jumped on an earnings beat and banks and many other financial stocks also gained.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 69.94 points, overcoming Wednesday’s losses and then some, to begin trading Thursday at 15,622.82

The Canadian dollar slipped 0.05 cents at 74.13 cents U.S.

Canadian Pacific Railway reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as it earned more from shipments of commodities such as grain and coal, and the company expressed optimism that demand was improving.

CP shares ballooned $7.79, or 3.9%, to $209.81

Barclays raised the target price on Rogers Communications to $63.00 from $57.00. Rogers shares were flat at $62.36

BMO raised the price target on Surge Energy to $3.25 from $3.00, with an outperform rating. Surge shares took on four cents, or 1.3%, to $2.69.

Among consumer discretionary concerns, Canadian Tire gained $1.09 to $166.60.

On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported Thursday that Canadians drawing regular employment insurance benefits numbered 554,200 in February, or 11,700, or 2.1%, fewer than the month before.

The agency says the number is similar to the level of June 2016 — just before the administrative changes that took effect last July.

Elsewhere, data showed early Thursday that lending activity to small Canadian businesses dipped in February, though borrowing by medium-sized firms rose for the fourth month in a row on strength in the construction sector and oil-related provinces.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange recovered 2.9 points to 821.77.

All but two of the 12 TSX subgroups were higher in the first hour of trade, as industrials sailed 1.3%, consumer discretionaries improved 0.7%, and materials were 0.4% to the good.

The pair of laggards consisted of utilities, down 0.2%, and telecoms, eking lower 0.01%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as more companies released quarterly results while oil prices tried to rebound from their worst one-day performance since March.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 81.28 points to 20,485.77, after the blue-chip index dropped 200 points in the past two days. American Express contributed the most gains.

The S&P 500 recovered 8.84 points to 2,347.01, with energy rising about 1% to lead advancers.

The NASDAQ Composite added 29.53 points to 5,892.56.

Dow component American Express reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings, lifted in part by higher spending numbers from card members.

Verizon, another Dow member, missed the mark on both earnings and revenue. The company attributed a 5.1% drop in sales to decreased overage revenue, lower postpaid customers in the quarter and continued promotional activity.

Other firms with earnings announcements set for today include Travelers, Blackstone, Philip Morris, ABB, and Bank of NY Mellon

In economic news, initial jobless claims rose to 244,000, topping expectations, while the Philadelphia Fed business index fell to 22 in April from 32.8 in March. Leading indicators rose more than expected in March.

Investors also looked ahead to the first round of the French presidential election, which is scheduled for Sunday. Uncertainty around the election has grown over the past month after far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon's surprising surge in the polls.

According to French pollster Ifop, Melenchon was just five percentage points behind the front-runner, centrist Emmanuel Macron as of Wednesday.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note were lower, lifting yields to 2.24% from Wednesday’s 2.21%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices eased lower six cents at $50.38 U.S. a barrel

Gold prices dropped 30 cents at $1,283.10 U.S. an ounce.