TORONTO - The Toronto stock market registered a solid triple digit advance Tuesday as positive inflation data from China boosted commodity prices and resource stocks.
The S&P/TSX composite index ran ahead 139.5 points to 12,484.05 after government data showed China’s consumer prices rose at a 2.1 per cent rate in March.
That was down from the previous month’s 3.2 per cent and well below the official target of 3.5 per cent for the year. Wholesale prices in the world’s second-largest economy declined by 1.9 per cent compared with last year.
The showing gives China some leeway in being able to take further measures to stimulate growth, particularly if industrial production figures coming out next week show activity weaker than expected.
"It's a good thing for us in Canada (because) it allows them to do whatever they need to do to make sure their economy continues to move higher," said Allan Small, senior adviser at DWM Securities.
"The hope is that they continue to build up their infrastructure and that can only be good for what we offer here in Canada, materials and mining and commodities and so forth."
The Canadian dollar rose 0.1 of a cent to 98.4 cents US amid positive housing data.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported that housing starts in Canada were at an annualized rate of 184,028 units last month, up slightly from 183,207 in February. That was well above the 175,000 economists had forecast.
U.S. indexes gained strength during the afternoon after aluminum company Alcoa got the first-quarter earnings season off to a positive start after the market close Monday by beating earnings expectations and delivering a strong outlook.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 59.98 points to 14,673.46, the Nasdaq composite index climbed 15.61 points to 3,237.86 and the S&P 500 index moved up 5.54 points to 1,568.61.
Alcoa posted net income in the first quarter of US$149 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with $94 million, or nine cents per share, a year earlier. Earnings ex-items came in at 11 cents per share, beating analysts’ forecast of eight cents per share, according to FactSet.
But Alcoa's revenue fell to $5.83 billion from $6.01 billion a year earlier and was below the $5.91 billion that analysts predicted as results were weighed down by depressed aluminum prices, which offset strong demand from auto and plane makers.
However, the company still sees demand for aluminum growing seven per cent in 2013, with gains cutting across many industries. Its stock was unchanged at US$8.39 after rising 15 cents Monday ahead of the earnings announcement.
Online auto retailer CarMax, home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond and banks Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are among other companies that will report earnings later this week.
Elsewhere on the corporate front, the largest shareholder of fertilizer company Agrium (TSX:AGU) has been shut out in its attempt to win a spot on the company’s board and push its agenda for change. All 12 of Jana Partners’ the company's nominees were elected to the board during today’s vote, denying the five that had been nominated by Jana for a spot.
Jana had thought it had enough votes to have two of its nominees sit on the board. However, it said that votes were revoked to prevent them from the winning seats. Agrium closed down $2.80 to C$96.53.
BlackBerry (TSX:BB) shares were up 20 cents to $15.10 as presales of its BlackBerry Q10, a new generation model with a physical keyboard, began at Canadian carriers Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and Telus (TSX:T). Bell (TSX:BCE) will begin preorders on April 19.
Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) shares were eight cents higher to $4.08 after The Wall Street Journal reported that Toronto-based Porter Airlines is preparing to announce an order for up to 30 CSeries jets from the Montreal-based transport company.
It says Porter, which currently uses only Bombardier turboprop planes in its fleet, signed a letter of intent with Bombardier in December. Porter said Tuesday that it will hold a news conference to announce growth plans Wednesday in Toronto.
Copper was up seven cents to US$3.44 a pound, taking the base metals sector up 3.25 per cent. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) climbed $1.37 to C$29.37 while First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) advanced 28 cents to $19.24.
The gold sector was up 3.4 per cent as June bullion gained $14.20 to US$1,586.70 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) gained 40 cents to C$27.16 while Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) was up $1.04 to $32.97.
The energy sector drifted 2.4 per cent higher as June crude on New York Mercantile Exchange shed early losses to gain 84 cents to US$94.20 a barrel. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) rose 90 cents to C$29.84 and Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) was 86 cents ahead to $32.04.
The financials sector was also higher, up 0.67 per cent and Royal Bank (TSX:RY) was up 74 cents to $60.18.
In other corporate news, U.S. retailer J.C. Penney has ousted CEO Ron Johnson after only 17 months on the job. The department store chain has rehired Johnson’s predecessor, Mike Ullman.
The announcement came after a growing chorus of critics called for Johnson’s resignation as they lost faith in an aggressive overhaul that included getting rid of most discounts in favour of everyday low prices and bringing in new brands and its shares fell 12.22 per cent.
SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) was up 40 cents to $43.40 after it said its jointly owned Saudi engineering company, SNC-Lavalin Fayez Engineering, has been awarded a contract to work on a new refining and petrochemical facility in the Middle Eastern country. No financial details were provided.
The strong showing put the TSX back into positive territory for the year, albeit by only about 50 points.
The TSX tumbled 3.27 per cent last week in the wake of Chinese purchasing managers indexes that missed forecasts, disappointing expansion data for the American manufacturing and service sectors with the week capped by big job creation disappointments last month in Canada and the U.S.
The TSX Venture Exchange gained 13.38 points to 1,054.77.