TSX down: miners fall on weak data, rails drop as Feds phase out unsafe tank cars

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed lower Wednesday amid positive earnings news and signs of weakening Chinese growth.

The S&P/TSX composite index lost 22.58 points to 14,533.39. The Canadian dollar was down 0.03 of a cent to 90.65 cents US.

New York indexes were also in the red as other data showed sales of new homes in the United States declined 14.5 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000. That was the second straight monthly decline and the lowest rate since July 2013.

The Dow Jones industrials was off 12.72 points at 16,501.65, the Nasdaq declined 34.49 points to 4,126.97 while the S&P 500 index was down 4.16 points to 1,875.39.

Shares in both Canadian National Railways (TSX:CNR) and CP Rail (TSX:CP) deteriorated early in the afternoon on word that the federal government is ordering the 5,000 most dangerous tank cars off the tracks as it adopts the major rail safety recommendations of the Transportation Safety Board in the wake of the tragedy last summer in Lac-Megantic, Que.

Shares in CN, which beat analyst expectations on both revenue and profit in an earnings report issued after markets closed on Tuesday, slipped 19 cents to $63.38

The CN results followed a well-received earnings report from CP that showed the company handily beating expectations.

"We would have thought that the weather would have reduced their overall revenues and earnings," said Philip Petursson, director of institutional equities at Manulife Asset Management. "I think that, with CP in particular, we're seeing the efficiencies follow through in terms of being a better operator overall."

CP stock fell $2.12 or 1.23 per cent to $170.50.

The TSX base metals sector was 0.26 per cent lower as data showed that factory activity in China shrank for the fourth consecutive month in April, though the decline was slightly slower. The preliminary version of HSBC’s purchasing managers’ index edged up to 48.3 from March’s 48.0.

May copper was up a cent at $3.06 a pound.

June crude in New York declined 31 cents to US$101.44 a barrel and the energy sector was ahead 0.5 per cent.

The gold sector ran ahead about 2.1 per cent while June bullion gained $3.50 to US$1,284.60 an ounce.

In the U.S., Boeing reported adjusted earnings of $1.76 per share, beating estimates of $1.56 per share. The company reported $20.47 billion in revenue, more than the $20.15 billion expected, and its shares were ahead $3.08 to US$130.63.

The Boeing earnings reinforced the view that the earnings season so far has turned out to be better than expected.

"Revenues are still coming kind of flattish and that I would say is the downside," Petursson said. "The upside is that earnings are coming in better than expected and I would say when we look ahead into Q2 and Q3 we will see accelerated earnings growth through the next couple of quarters at least."

After the close, Facebook (Nasdaq:FB) posted earnings ex-items of 34 cents a share versus the 24 cents that analysts expected. Revenue of $2.5 billion beat estimates of $2.36. The stock climbed $2.25, or 3.67 per cent to $63.36 in extended trading on the new after having closed down $1.67 or 2.7 per cent at $61.36 amid a broader market decline.

Meanwhile, shares in Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL) soared more than 7.5 per cent in extended trading after the company announced after markets closed that it was increasing its dividend by eight per cent to $3.29 per share and that it would buy back an additional US$30 billion of its stock — now US$90 in total — in a move to funnel more money to shareholders. Quarterly earnings rose seven per cent to $10.2 billion, or $11.62 per share, while revenue climbed by five per cent to $45.6 billion.

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