(RTTNews.com) - Canadian stocks ended a shade higher for a sixth straight session Tuesday, amid a slew of strong earnings and some mixed data from the U.S. with a bigger than expected improvement in consumer confidence in July. Investors also kept a close watch over the developments in Ukraine and the Middle East.
Nonetheless, investors remained somewhat cautious ahead of the outcome from the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy meet tomorrow.
The Fed is widely expected to cut its asset purchases by another $10 billion, reducing the size of its program down to $25 billion per month. Investors also keenly await clues about the likely timing of an interest rate hike.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Tuesday at 15,446.55, up 1.33 points. The index scaled a intraday high of 15,506.09 and a low of 15,445.22.
On Monday, Canadian stocks ended a tad higher, despite some disappointing data from the U.S. and uncertainties over developments in Ukraine and the Middle East.
U.S. crude oil ended lower lower ahead of the Federal Reserve's rate decision and official U.S. crude oil inventory data, both due on Wednesday.
The Energy Index slipped 0.17 percent, with U.S. crude oil futures for September delivery dropping $0.70 or 0.7 percent to close at $100.97 a barrel Tuesday on the Nymex.
Among energy stocks, Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) added 0.34 percent, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ.TO) gained 0.19 percent, Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.TO) slipped 0.33 percent, and Cenovus Energy Inc. (CVE.TO) moved up 0.37 percent.
Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM.TO) added 1.79 percent after reporting a second quarter net loss of $237 million or $0.24 a share in the second quarter of 2014, as against a profit of $97 million or $0.06 a share, in the prior-year period.
The Financial Index gained 0.15 percent with Toronto-Dominion Bank up 0.11 percent, National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) up 0.18 percent, Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) up 0.11 percent, and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) edging up 0.01 percent.
The Capped Healthcare Index added 0.64 percent with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (VRX.TO) up 0.05 percent, Catamaran Corp. (CCT.TO) up 1.58 percent, and Extendicare (EXE.TO) up 0.27 percent.
Global Gold Index slipped 0.27 percent, with gold futures for August delivery shedding $5.0 or 0.4 percent to close at $1,298.30 an ounce on the Nymex Tuesday.
Among gold stocks, Goldcorp Inc. (G.TO) gained 0.07 percent, Yamana Gold Inc. (YRI.TO) added 0.88 percent, Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) flat at $20.18 a share, Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD.TO) dropped 0.24 percent, and Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) surrendered 0.22 percent.
Alacer Gold Corp. (ASR.TO) dropped 2.67 percent after reporting an adjusted net profit of $9.4 million or $0.03 per share for the second quarter.
Timmins Gold Corp. (TMM.TO) fell 1.95 percent, after reporting second quarter earnings of $3.2 million or $0.02 per share, compared to $1.0 million or $0.01 per share in the same quarter last year.
The Capped Materials Index inched up 0.01 percent on gold mining stocks, with Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) declining 0.43 percent.
The Diversified Metals & Mining Index added 0.90 percent, with Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) down 0.67 percent and Teck Resources Limited (TCK.B.TO) adding 2.06 percent.
The Capped Industrials Index dropped 0.12 percent, with Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.(CP. TO) dropping 0.62 percent, Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO) down 0.28 percent, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (SNC.TO) added 0.39 percent, and Ballard Power Systems Inc. (BLD.TO) up 2.37 percent.
The Capped Telecommunications Index slipped 0.29 percent, with Telus Corp. (T.TO) adding 0.37 percent, BCE Inc. (BCE.TO) up 0.26 percent, Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MBT.TO) gathering 1.02 percent, Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI.B.TO) slipping 0.07 percent, and Bell Aliant Inc. (BA.TO) advancing 0.39 percent.
The Information Technology Index dropped 0.82 percent, with BlackBerry Limited (BB.TO) down 4.00 percent and CGI Group Inc. (GIB.A.TO) down 0.08 percent.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. (WJA.TO) gained 3.90 percent after reporting second-quarter net earnings of C$51.8 million, up from C$44.7 million last year. Earnings per share rose to C$0.40 from C$0.34 a year ago.
Calfrac Well Services Ltd. (CFW.TO) added 1.76 percent after reporting a second-quarter net loss of C$12.90 million, compared with C$14.58 million last year. Loss per share narrowed to C$0.14 from C$0.16 in the year-ago period.
Norbord Inc. (NBD.TO) surged 6.98 percent after reporting earnings of $11 million or $0.21 per share for the second quarter, compared to $7 million or $0.13 per share in the prior quarter, and $53 million or $1.00 per share in the second quarter of 2013.
Firstservice Corp. (FSV.TO) jumped 5.22 percent after reporting adjusted earnings of $0.74 per share for the three months ended June 2014, up from $0.57 per share in the same quarter last year.
George Weston Limited (WN.TO) gained 1.32 percent after reporting a second quarter adjusted operating income that rose 51.4 percent.
In economic news from the U.S., the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index surged up to 90.9 in July from an upwardly revised 86.4 in June, reaching its highest level since hitting 95.2 in October 2007.
Economists had been expecting the index to inch up to a reading of 85.4 from the 85.2 originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, home prices in major U.S. metropolitan areas continued to increase at a slower pace in the month of May, Standard & Poor's report showed. The report said the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index increased at an annual rate of 9.3 percent in May compared to the 10.8 percent growth reported for April.
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