The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 105.2 points at 12,300.23 while traders also took earnings reports from a slew of other companies.
"A lot of the numbers that came out of Canada were reasonably in-line and positive and that’s certainly helping things," said Colin Cieszynski, market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.
"So far, so good for Canada."
The TSX Venture Exchange gained 16.8 points to 1,305.54.
The Canadian dollar was off early highs but closed up 0.1 of a cent to 100.61 cents US as markets also got a boost from data that showed Britain’s economy emerged from recession in the July-to-September quarter after a nine-month downturn.
U.S. indexes had started the session out strong amid a solid earnings report from U.S. multinational consumer products giant Procter & Gamble.
But gains faded as a report showed the number of Americans who signed contacts to buy homes rose only slightly last month, suggesting sales may level off in the coming months after solid gains in the past year.
The Dow Jones industrials were 26.34 points ahead to 13,103.68 as the National Association of Realtors said that its seasonally adjusted index of sales agreements rose in September to a reading of 99.5. That’s up from August’s reading of 99.2 but below a two-year high of 101.9 reached in July. Contracts are up 14.5 per cent from a year ago.
The index can signal where the housing market is headed because a signed contract usually results in a final sale one or two months later.
The Nasdaq gained 4.42 points to 2,986.12 and the S&P 500 index up 4.22 points to 1,412.97.
Markets had lost ground over the last few days as results from big American multinationals such as McDonald's, DuPont chemical and conglomerates General Electric and 3M Inc. disappointed and reminded investors about how fragile economic conditions are overseas, particularly in Europe.
Analysts also see traders getting more cautious ahead of the U.S. election on Nov. 6 which is seen as too close to call.
Procter & Gamble said quarterly net income fell seven per cent to $2.81 billion, or 96 cents per share, down from $3.02 billion, or $1.03 per share, last year. Adjusted results of $1.06 a share beat expectations by a dime, however, and the world’s largest consumer products maker reiterated its annual guidance, sending its shares up 2.9 per cent to US$70.07.
The TSX gold sector rose about three per cent as December bullion gained $11.40 to US$1,713 an ounce and Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) posted a third-quarter profit of US$498 million or 61 cents a share. Adjusted for one-time items, Goldcorp's earnings were 54 cents per share, six cents better than estimates and its shares rose $2.81 to $43.60.
Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. (TSX:AEM) bounded ahead $4.59 or just under nine per cent to $55.97 as it increased its production guidance for the year and it reported a better than expected third-quarter profit of US$106.3 million.
The TSX energy sector was up 0.8 per cent as oil prices firmed up after five days of losses, including a drop of almost $1 on Wednesday in the wake of data showing a much larger increase in crude inventories last week than had been expected. The December contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 32 cents to US$86.05 a barrel.
Oil and gas producer Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY) said its net income fell to $59 million, or 11 cents per share in the third quarter from $200 million, or 38 cents per share a year ago due to lower cash flow and the impact of several non-recurring items.
Nexen also said it expected the $15.1-billion deal that would see it acquired by China National Offshore Oil Co. to be completed by the end of this year. Its shares added seven cents to $23.70.
Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) says its net income fell by 43 per cent from a year ago to $289 million or 38 cents per share before adjustments, missing analyst estimates by a wide margin. But Cenovus’s cash flow, a more closely watched metric in the energy sector, rose by 41 per cent to $1.12 billion or $1.47 per share, 25 cents better than estimates. Its shares gained 40 cents to $34.40.
The metals and mining sector was flat 0.3 per cent as copper gave up an early modest gain and moved down two cents to US$3.55 a pound. Copper closed unchanged Wednesday but prices for the metal, which is viewed as an economic barometer, saw a slide of 18 cents in the previous four sessions. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) climbed 34 cents to $31.73.
Elsewhere on the earnings front, Potash Corp. says its third-quarter profit fell 22 per cent from a year ago to US$645 million or 74 cents per share. Revenue was $2.14 billion, down from $2.32 billion in the third quarter of 2011. The revenue was in line with analyst estimates but profit was below expectations by two to three cents per share, depending on adjustments. Its shares dipped 12 cents to $40.17.
Shaw Communications Inc. (TSX:SJR.B) gained 36 cents to $20.85 as it reported quarterly net income from continuing operations of $133 million, or 28 cents per diluted share, for down from $167 million or 37 cents per share in the same period last year. Revenue, however, was up 2.5 per cent to $1.21 billion for the quarter compared to $1.81 billion year over year.
Traders were also relieved Thursday to see strong reports from German industrial conglomerate BASF, consumer products company Unilever and Swiss bank Credit Suisse.