By Laura Mandaro, MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Canadian stocks on Thursday scored their first gain in seven sessions, getting a break from concerns about Europe’s banking and fiscal situation and earnings from Sun Life Financial Corp., Canadian Tire Corp. and Cineplex Inc.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 61.16 points, or 0.5%, to close 11,736.17. It’s still down 1.1% for the week and 4.5 % lower for the month, so far.
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Sun Life Financial /zigman2/quotes/206642387/delayed CA:SLF -2.11% shares rose 1.9% after the insurer posted a quarterly profit that topped estimates, helped by rising equity markets and U.S. government bond yields.
Cineplex /zigman2/quotes/201832697/delayed CA:CGX -1.21% shares gained 1.1% after the company raised its dividend following a strong turnout for “The Hunger Games” and “Dr. Suess’ The Lorax,” which helped the movie chain operator swing to a profit. Read more on Cineplex.
U.S. stocks lost steam ahead of the close, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -4.42% still managed to put an end to a six-session losing streak. Read about action in U.S. stocks.
Moves by Spain to nationalize a struggling lender and the news that European leaders would disburse the next round of Greece’s aid served to stabilize European credit markets and allay investor concerns about the region. Read more on European credit markets.
“Stabilization at a lower level doesn’t mean that markets are out of the woods by a long shot, but it’s a start,” wrote Colin Cieszynski, market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.
In economic news Thursday, Statistics Canada reported that the nation’s merchandise exports edged down 0.4% and imports decreased 0.6%, sending Canada’s trade surplus higher to $351 million in March from $273 million in February.
“March’s trade figures show an encouraging pickup in both export and import volumes,” said David Madani, Canada economist at Capital Economics, in a note. “With first-quarter growth in exports outpacing imports, we calculate that net trade contributed positively to [gross domestic product] growth, which we still estimate was 1.5% annualized.”
Still, despite the “encouraging” overall trade volumes story, lower prices for export and imports led to declines in the value of exports and imports, he said.
Looking ahead, the “recommencement of production at certain mining facilities bodes well for export growth this quarter, which we think should easily outpace imports,” said Madani.