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TSX slightly higher amid disappointing U.S. reads on manufacturing, housing

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market registered a modest gain Tuesday amid data that showed severe winter weather is having an impact on U.S. economic performance.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 22.71 points to 14,077.47. The Canadian dollar moved up 0.27 of a cent from Friday's close to 91.32 cents US amid higher prices for oil and metals.

New York indexes were mixed as the Empire State Manufacturing Index for February, a gauge of manufacturing activity in the U.S. Northeast, declined to a much worse than expected reading of 4.48 in February. That was down from 12.5 in January.

The Dow Jones industrials fell 23.99 points to 16,130.4, while the Nasdaq was up 28.75 points to 4,272.78 and the S&P 500 index added 2.13 points to 1,840.76.

Also, the U.S. National Association of Home Builders' housing market index tumbled 10 points to 46. Economists had expected a flat showing. But the NAHB also reported that its buyer traffic index fell nine points to 31 as fewer prospective buyers felt like braving severe winter conditions in many parts of the U.S.

Meanwhile, analysts believe the weather impact on the economy will be temporary.

"It’s a short-term blip," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investment.

"I think, overall, as we get into the second and third quarters, we move past some of the weather stuff that’s gone on, get back to good weather and start seeing better results coming through. I think the momentum will shift back towards a positive risk environment."

Meanwhile, there was also major dealmaking in the pharmaceutical sector. Actavis PLC announced it is buying fellow drugmaker Forest Laboratories Inc. in a cash-and-stock deal worth about US$25 billion.

Utilities led advancers, up 0.63 per cent with Altantic Power (TSX:ATP) ahead 21 cents or 7.39 per cent to $3.05.

The information technology sector was up 0.52 per cent, largely because of a sharp rise in shares of BlackBerry (TSX:BB), which jumped 50 cents or 5.07 per cent to $10.37.

The base metals sector advanced 0.42 per cent while March copper was up two cents to US$3.29 a pound.

The March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $2.13 to US$102.43 a barrel. The energy sector rose 0.49 per cent.

The gold sector rose about 0.3 per cent as April bullion climbed $5.80 to US$1,324.40 an ounce.

The consumer discretionary sector led decliners, down 0.67 per cent as home renovation retailer Rona (TSX:RON) posted quarterly adjusted profit that decreased 28 per cent to $4.6 million or four cents per share, six cents per share below estimates. Same-store sales dropped 3.5 per cent due to poor weather in Ontario and Quebec in December and a decline in housing starts. It shares fell 79 cents or 6.39 per cent to $11.58.

In other earnings news, Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:CHP.UN) reported an adjusted profit of C$36.8 million, which came in above a forecast of $34.6 million when Choice prepared its initial public offering last summer. Funds from operations, another key financial measure for real estate companies, were $82.8 million compared with the forecast of $78.9 million. Its units were eight cents lower at $10.37.

The Canadian Press


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