The Toronto stock market registered a solid gain Thursday as traders took in data reinforcing the view that the Chinese economy is slowing.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 139.20 points, or 1.2%, to greet noon ET at 12,165.96
The Canadian dollar gained 0.77 cents, to climb back above parity with the American dollar at 100.39 cents U.S.
The World Bank trimmed its growth outlook for China this year to 8.2% from 8.4%. It cited U.S. and European economic woes and Chinese lending and investment curbs imposed to cool an overheated economy.
The bank stressed it still expects a soft landing from the world's second-biggest economy and added that Beijing should be ready to launch a new stimulus if needed.
China has been a major force in helping the global economy recover from the 2008 financial crisis and recession. Its huge appetite for commodities has sent prices for oil and metals higher, along with resource stocks on the TSX.
The World Bank report came out a day ahead of the release of China's first-quarter economic growth figures, which are expected to confirm a slowdown this year. China's government earlier this year cut its annual growth target to 7.5% from the 8% level in place since 2005.
The TSX base metals sector was among the key advancers as copper prices recovered from a string of losses but were off the highs of the morning following the World Bank report.
The metal, viewed as an economic barometer because it is used in so many industries had lost about seven per cent over the last week amid soft trade data from China, the biggest consumer of the metal. But on Thursday, copper was ahead four cents to $3.68 U.S. a pound. Teck Resources climbed 47 cents to $35.84.
Railway stocks advanced alongside miners with Canadian National Railways ahead 69 cents to $78.53.
Among energy issues, Canadian Natural Resources gained 23 cents to $31.90.
Gold stocks were positive as Goldcorp Inc. improved by 49 cents to $41.30.
In Canadian earnings news, Corus Entertainment Inc. handed in a profit of $31.6 million or 38 cents a share for its second quarter, beating estimates by two cents. The Toronto-based television and radio company saw its revenue increase by 8% over the same time a year before to $205.7 million and its shares gained 38 cents to $24.85.
In other corporate developments, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. has acquired privately held Pedinol Pharmacal Inc. for an undisclosed price pegged at less than 1.5 times sales. Pedino, a podiatry-focused, privately-owned specialty pharmaceutical company, reported $18 million in revenue in 2011. Valeant shares dipped eight cents to 452.64.
Resolute Forest Products has acquired nearly half of the stock in Fibrek Inc. through a hostile takeover attempt. Formerly known as AbitibiBowater, Resolute acquired nearly 61 million Fibrek shares or 46.8% ownership of the pulp and fibre producer, by the offer's deadline of midnight Wednesday.
Resolute will pay $33.5 million in cash and 1.7 million of its own shares to acquire the Fibrek shares tendered by the April 11 deadline. Fibrek shares ran ahead 10 cents to $1.15.
Economically speaking, Statistics Canada reported this morning that our merchandise exports declined 3.9% and imports edged up 0.2%. That means Canada's trade surplus decreased from $1.9 billion in January to $292 million in February.
The agency also told us that the new house prices hiked 0.3% in February, after a dip of 0.1% in January.
The TSX Venture Exchange gained 28.05 points to 1,463.17, while the Nasdaq Canada index strengthened 6.48 points to 405.70
All but two of the 14 Toronto subgroups were higher to break for lunch. Metals and mining gained 3.6%, while global base metals were 3.1% higher, and gold shone 2.5% brighter.
The two laggards were consumer staples, down 0.3%, and utilities, off 0.1%.
In New York, stocks moved higher for a second straight day Thursday, as investors continued to recover from a modest pullback at the start of April and as worries about Europe take a backseat to U.S. economic and corporate results.
The Dow Jones Industrials gained 139.68 points, or 1.1%, at noon to 12,945.10
The S&P 500 soared 13.19 points to 1,381.90, and the Nasdaq added 36.49 points to 3,052.95
Following robust gains in the first quarter, stocks hit a rough patch at the start of the month, triggering five straight days of losses for the Dow and S&P 500. Both indexes lost more than 4% in that short stretch, as investors were hit with bad news from nearly every direction: China, Europe and the United States.
Google will announce its results after markets close, while earnings from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are due Friday.
U.S. stocks closed higher Wednesday, bouncing back after a string of five down days, as concerns about Europe eased and hopes for a better-than-expected earnings season rose. Aluminum producer
Alcoa led Wednesday's gains after reporting a surprise first-quarter profit late Tuesday.
Shares of McKesson popped after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs awarded the wholesale pharmaceutical company a contract worth about $4 billion U.S. a year to supply medication to VA facilities.
Rite Aid shares fell slightly after the drugstore chain reported a quarterly loss of 18 cents a share on $7.1 billion U.S. in revenue, in line with expectations.
Shares of Royal Dutch Shell fell sharply after the company said it had activated an oil spill response vessel to investigate a "light sheen" of oil spotted in the Gulf of Mexico, but recovered a bit in later trading.
Sony said Thursday that it would be cutting 10,000 jobs during the 2012 fiscal year as it seeks to revitalize its struggling business. The electronics maker warned earlier this week that its annual loss would be twice as large as its prior forecast, blaming write-offs of deferred tax credits.
Oaktree Capital Group started trading under the ticker OAK after the asset management firm raised $378 million U.S. through an initial public offering Wednesday. Oaktree sold 8.8 million shares at $43 U.S. apiece, the low end of its estimated range. Shares of the company were little changed in their stock market debut.
Economically speaking, the U.S. Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims rose unexpectedly to 380,000 in the latest week, up from a revised reading of 367,000, which was also revised higher.
But separate reports showed no increase in overall wholesale prices in March, which was better than the 0.2% increase forecast, and the nation's trade deficit declined unexpectedly in February.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was lower, raising yields to 2.05% from Wednesday's 2.03%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery gained $1.30 to $104.00 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery fell $13.90 to $1,673.00 U.S. an ounce.