10/24/2012 08:31 EDT | Updated 12/24/2012 05:12 EST

Economic worries push TSX down for fourth session despite positive earnings

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed lower Wednesday despite a wave of positive Canadian earnings reports and indications that China's manufacturing slump may have bottomed out.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell for a fourth day, down 30.81 points to 12,195.02 with traders still focused on a slowing global economy. The TSX Venture Exchange was off 0.76 of a point at 1,288.75.

The Canadian dollar shed early gains to move down 0.23 of a cent to 100.51 cents US amid weak commodity prices. It had earlier traded as high as 101.22 cents US, a day after the Bank of Canada maintained its bias towards future interest rate hikes and mentioned the possibility of high household debt levels playing a role in raising rates.

U.S. indexes were also lower on top of steep losses Tuesday after earnings disappointments from DuPont chemical and conglomerate 3M Inc. reinforced a gloomy view of global economic prospects.

The Dow Jones industrials declined 25.19 points to 13,077.34, the Nasdaq composite index was down 8.76 points to 2,981.7 and the S&P 500 index slipped 4.36 points to 1,408.75.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve took no new action during its two-day policy meeting.

Having announced a third round of economic stimulus in September, it wants time to assess whether those aggressive steps will boost growth and job creation.

There was a further sign of a revival in the U.S. housing sector as data showed that new home sales for September rose 5.7 per cent to an annualized rate of 389,000, well above consensus estimates of 382,000 and the highest level since April, 2010.

The TSX found some lift from positive news from China, the world’s second-biggest economy.

A preliminary version of HSBC’s monthly purchasing managers’ index rose to a three-month high of 49.1 points. That still was below the 50-point level that would indicate expansion, but nevertheless a strong improvement from September’s 47.9 reading.

The base metals sector was 1.32 up per cent as December copper was unchanged at US$3.56 a pound. Worries about deteriorating economic conditions pushed copper down 18 cents over the previous four sessions.

Teck Resources Ltd. (TSX:TCK.B) shares were 85 cents higher at $31.39 as the Vancouver-based producer of copper, coal and other minerals announced plans to severely slash capital spending this year and next in the face of a slowing global economy. Teck also reported net income attributable to shareholders of $180 million or 31 cents per diluted share, compared with $814 million or $1.37 is the same 2011 period. Revenue was $2.5 billion, down from $3.38 billion.

The industrials sector rose 1.36 per cent as Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (TSX: CP) said its third-quarter net income was $224 million, an increase of $37 million or 20 per cent, and diluted earnings per share were $1.30, up 18 per cent compared with a year earlier. The profit beat analyst estimates by a penny a share and revenue was slightly above the consensus estimate and its shares ran up $5.29 to $93.18.

The telecom sector rose almost one per cent while Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) shares gained $1.35 to $42.43 as the telecom posted net income of $495 million or 96 cents per share, seven cents better than estimates and up from $489 million or 90 cents per share a year ago. Its revenue increased to $3.17 billion, up about one per cent from the same time last year and largely in line with analyst estimates.

The energy sector fell 0.5 per cent with December crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange lower for a fifth day, down 94 cents to US$85.73 a barrel after sliding almost $2 on Tuesday.

Losses deepened in the wake of data showing a bigger than expected rise in crude supplies last week. Crude supplies rose by 5.9 million barrels, much higher than the 1.7-million-barrel increase economists had expected.

Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) reported a US$1.24-billion net loss in the third quarter, primarily due to the impact of lower natural gas prices over the past year. But Encana said it was still on track to meet its financial guidance for the full year. Its shares lost 70 cents to $21.86.

The gold sector was the leading decliner, down per cent while December bullion fell $7.80 to US$1,701.60 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) faded $1.46 to $40.79.

The Canadian earnings season is moving into high gear this week and, like in the U.S., expectations are muted.

"I think it will be fair to middling in terms of earnings, I don’t think it will be particularly negative, I don’t think it will be particularly positive," said Chris King, portfolio manager at Morgan, Meighen and Associates.

"We only have three (major) TSX sectors: financials will be OK, mining will be negative and energy will be neutral."

The early earnings news from the U.S. was also positive with aircraft maker Boeing turning in quarterly earnings of $1.35 a share, well above the $1.12 a share that had been expected. Boeing's 2012 overall profit outlook is expected to come in at $4.80 to $4.95 a share, against analyst expectations of $4.72 a share. But Boeing stock lost early momentum to close down 11 cents to $72.71.

Facebook was also in focus after the world’s biggest social media company provided some proof it can make money from mobile advertising. Facebook said after the market close Tuesday that some 14 per cent of its ad revenue came from mobile advertising during the latest quarter. Its stock surged 19 per cent as Citi research upgraded the stock to buy.