The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 36.05 points at 14,833.88.
Metro's quarterly net income was up 13.4 per cent from a year ago to $112.5 million. Adjusted earnings were $1.35 per share, four cents above estimates, while sales were up 5.2 per cent to $2.84 billion.
Metro also announced a three-for-one stock split and a dividend hike. Metro shares advanced $3.99 or 4.1 per cent to $101.25 after hitting an all time high of $104.03.
Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) close down 28 cents to $85.16 ahead of earnings. After the close those earnings came in at $1.03 per share, six cents ahead of estimates.
CN also boosted its quarterly dividend 25 per cent to 31.25 cents a share and said its operating ratio — a measure of efficiency — improved by 4.1 points to 60.7 per cent. The full-year 2014 operating ratio improved by 1.5 points to 61.9 per cent
The Canadian dollar rose 0.39 of a cent to 80.62 cents US.
The selling pressure was particularly fierce in New York amid disappointments from corporate heavyweights including Caterpillar and Microsoft.
The Dow industrials plunged 291.49 points to 17,387.21, the Nasdaq lost 90.26 points to 4,681.5 and the S&P 500 index fell 27.53 points to 2,029.56.
Traders also took in a disappointing reading on U.S. durable goods orders for December. They fell 3.4 per cent, led by a 55.5 per cent plunge in the volatile commercial aircraft category.
But there was also weakness in a number of areas, with demand for machinery, computer and primary metals all down.
However, after markets closed Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL) reported a blowout quarter as its new plus-sized iPhones helped the company smash sales records for the holiday season.
The surge in iPhone sales drove the company's total revenue to US$74.6 billion, up 30 per cent from a year earlier. Net income rose 38 per cent to US$18 billion, as Apple reported earnings of $3.06 a share, well analysed expectations of $2.60 per share on revenue of US$67.39 billion, according to a survey by FactSet. In early after hours trading, Apple shares were up $5.26 at $114.47.
Caterpillar Inc. posted earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs, of $1.35 per share, widely missing expectations of $1.55 a share. Revenue of $14.24 billion beat forecasts for $14.18 billion but its shares dropped six per cent as the heavy machinery manufacturer delivered a disappointing outlook as the commodities super cycle ground to a halt.
Its shares fell 7.2 per cent to US$79.85, leaving some analysts puzzled why markets would be surprised that Caterpillar would have a soft outlook.
"It’s not a surprise. I mean the majority of Caterpillar’s growth over the last multiple years has come from international sources — why would we be surprised at this?" asked Brian Belski, Chief Investment Strategist at BMO Capital Markets.
"My theory is there is a general reluctance for investors to let go of the international growth story."
And Microsoft shares fell 9.25 per cent to $42.66 despite meeting profit expectations and beating revenue forecasts for the latest quarter. JPMorgan downgraded the company to neutral from overweight and reduced its price target to US$47 from $53. A group of analysts at the brokerage said the downgrade reflected Microsoft's spending projections, saying the company will not exercise as much spending discipline as anticipated.
Traders also looked to the Federal Reserve and its interest rate announcement on Wednesday.
TSX losses were minimized by a 3.3 per cent gain in the gold sector as bullion gained $12.30 to US$1,291.70 an ounce.
Oil prices were $1.08 higher to US$46.23 a barrel and the energy sector was up one per cent.
The base metals sector led declines, down 0.85 per cent as a strengthening greenback and demand concerns from China pushed copper down eight cents to a fresh 5 1/2 year low of US$2.46 a pound.