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TSX higher amid solid earnings, U.S. economic rebound in second quarter

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market advanced Wednesday, powered by solid earnings and an indication from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it is in no rush to raise interest rates.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 78.27 points to 15,524.82.

The Canadian dollar was off 0.36 of a cent to 91.73 cents US.

U.S. markets were mixed after the Fed ended its policy meeting with word that it is continuing to pare its monthly bond purchases. They have been intended to keep long-term borrowing rates low and are set to end in October.

The Fed reiterated that it will keep short-term rates low "for a considerable time" after those bond purchases end. Most economists think a rate increase is about a year away.

The Dow Jones industrials dipped 31.75 points to 16,880.36, while the Nasdaq gained 20.2 points to 4,462.9 and the S&P 500 index edged up 0.12 of a point to 1,970.07.

Strong economic growth data had raised concerns the Fed could act sooner to raise rates.

Gross domestic product grew by a better-than-expected annual pace of four per cent in the second quarter. The contraction of the economy in the January-March period because of severe winter weather was also revised to 2.1 per cent from 2.9 per cent.

"It really answers how constructive the Fed’s quantitative easing has been, whether this huge intervention had a positive effect on the economy and the answer is yes," said Monika Skiba, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

Two days before the release of the American government's employment report for July, payroll firm ADP reported that 218,000 jobs were created in the private sector during the month, short of the 235,000 print that was expected. Analysts looked for the U.S. government report to show that about 230,000 jobs were created during July.

Meanwhile, Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) shares gained 80 cents to $33.61 as the company more than tripled its second-quarter net earnings to $615 million or 81 cents per share as it benefited from increased oil production and higher commodity prices.

"Since the price of the commodity has been strong, the earnings of the companies are reflecting that, they’re better than expected," added Skiba.

"But beyond this, we’re probably at the stage where higher prices would be negative for economic growth."

Meanwhile, Sherritt International Inc. (TSX:S) reported a quarterly loss of $30.1 million or 10 cents a share, mainly due to startup costs at its Ambatovy joint venture nickel and cobalt mine in Madagascar. But its shares were ahead 17 cents to $4.61. The loss came as prices for nickel and cobalt continued to improve as many anticipate nickel shortages due to an Indonesian mineral export ban on raw ore exports.

In the U.S., shares in Twitter surged 20 per cent after the social network's earnings blew past expectations.

September copper was ahead two cents at US$3.24 a pound and the base metals sector rose 0.77 per cent.

The TSX energy sector was ahead 0.47 per cent as September crude declined 70 cents to US$100.27. A major decliner was Penn West Petroleum (TSX:PWT). Its shares plunged 13.78 per cent to $8.57 after the company announced it's reviewing its accounting practices going back several years and will have to restate some of its past financial reports.

September bullion was off $3.60 to US$1,296.90 an ounce.

The gold sector fell about 0.65 per cent ahead of earnings later in the day from major miners including Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX).

The Canadian Press

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