Canadian stocks rose Thursday as gains by the health-care and energy sectors offset weak U.S. economic data.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Thursday up 24.80 points to 12,153.69
The Canadian dollar slipped 0.42 cents, to 100.47 cents U.S.
The health-care sector gained 2.5%. Shares of SXC Health Solutions Corp. increased 8.9% to $96.49. The pharmacy-benefit manager's shares posted a double-digit percentage gain on Wednesday after the company announced its plan to buy rival Catalyst Health Solutions
Energy stocks added strength, trimming gains in the morning session as oil prices fluctuated.
Shares of Bankers Petroleum Ltd. rose 4.6% to $3.65.
Shares of the mining sector were mixed. Gold producers were among the better performers as gold prices edged up after U.S. weekly jobless claims were higher than anticipated. Goldcorp Inc. shares climbed 1.6% to $41.16.
Among the base metals group, shares of Lundin Mining Corp. rose 5.3% to $4.54, while First Quantum Minerals Ltd. added 3% to $21.50.
Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. shares slipped 4.2% to $12.93, after Rio Tinto PLC said it would review the company's sale of a stake in SouthGobi Resources to Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., or Chalco, now that it has control of Ivanhoe's board.
First Uranium Corp. shares plunged 33.3% to 10 cents after the company said its gold sales for the fourth quarter 2012 decreased 15% from the previous quarter. The company said only 86 pounds of uranium were produced in the fourth quarter, a sharp drop from 30,887 in the third quarter.
In the technology sector, Research In Motion shares rose 2.7% to $13.43, after Bloomberg News reported that the BlackBerry maker is close to selecting a financial adviser, and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is the leading candidate. Bloomberg reported that the company would prefer to license its BlackBerry operating system, and the second option would be finding a strategic investor.
On the economic slate, Statistics Canada told us this morning that the number of those receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits fell in February from the month before by 6,700, or 1.2%, to 552,800.
The TSX Venture Exchange slumped 15.05 points to 1,396.77, while the Nasdaq Canada index added 4.08 points to 415.44
Nine of the 14 Toronto subgroups ended the day higher. Health-care issues led the pack, up 2.6%, followed by energy issues, better by 0.6%, and the metals and mining sector, ahead 0.5%.
The five laggards were weighed mostly by consumer staples, shedding 0.9%, information technology, off 0.4%, and consumer discretionaries, down 0.3%.
In New York, equities were firmly lower Thursday afternoon, as a trifecta of downbeat U.S. economic reports overshadowed encouraging signs out of corporate America and Europe.
The Dow Jones Industrials closed lower by 68.65 points to 12,964.10, with McDonalds and Alcoa dragging on the blue-chip index. Travelers and Verizon were the biggest gainers, as both companies topped earnings expectations.
The S&P 500 fell 8.16 points to 1,376.98, and the Nasdaq doffed 23.89 points to 3,007.56
eBay was a strong performer on both indexes, with shares up more than 12%. The e-commerce company reported strong financial results for the quarter, and also raised its outlook for 2012.
Trading was choppy Thursday. Earlier in the session, the Dow and the S&P 500 were up over 0.3%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq had climbed 0.9%.
Corporate earnings, on the other hand, have been better than expected. Of the 105 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported quarterly results, more than 80% beat expectations, while 11% missed forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters. Analysts are expecting overall S&P 500 first-quarter earnings to climb 6%, with revenues edging up 5%.
Meanwhile, investors were also mildly relieved that an auction of €2.5 billion of Spanish 10-year bonds drew strong demand.
But Spain released a relatively low volume of bonds, helping to ensure that demand, according to some experts.
Investors continue to parse through corporate earnings.
Ahead of Thursday's open, Bank of America reported that its quarterly net income had declined sharply versus last year, though the drop came after an accounting adjustment of nearly $5 billion U.S. After factoring out non-operating expenses, the company's earnings more than doubled from a year ago, sending shares higher.
Morgan Stanley too, reported a large accounting adjustment that cut into its earnings. Excluding this expense, earnings and revenue were up versus last year, and shares moved higher.
Nokia shares were down after the cell phone maker reported a steep first-quarter loss, struggling against strong competition in the mobile market.
After Thursday's close, Microsoft will report first-quarter earnings.
Shares of luxury luggage maker Tumi soared more than 50% in their stock market debut, after pricing above the expected range in the company's initial public offering Wednesday. Splunk shares doubled on their first day of trading, after also pricing above range on Wednesday.
Biotech firm Human Genome Sciences rejected a takeover bid from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. HGS said the offer -- at $13 U.S. per share, or $2.6 billion U.S. -- "does not reflect the value inherent" in the company. Shares of HGS were up 97% in midday trading.
Shares of Sprint tumbled after New York's attorney general filed a tax fraud lawsuit against the wireless carrier, accusing it of intentionally underpaying sales tax in the state for seven years. Under New York state law, Sprint could be on the hook for as much as $300 million U.S., plus penalties, if it is found liable.
Shares of U.S. Airways surged more than 15% following a Bloomberg report that three of American Airlines' largest unions have agreed to back a possible takeover from the Tempe, Arizona-based airline. AMR Corp., parent company of American Airlines, went into bankruptcy last year and announced a quarterly net loss of $1.7 billion U.S. on Thursday.
Economically speaking, the U.S. government said first-time unemployment claims declined by 2,000 to 386,000 in the week ended April 14. Initial claims were expected to come in at 375,000, according to analysts surveyed by Briefing.com.
Existing home sales dipped 2.6%, a sign that the housing market recovery remains on shaky ground. The Philadelphia Fed regional manufacturing index also fell, coming in below expectations.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury gained some ground, pushing the yield down to 1.95% from Wednesday's 1.98%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery fell back 23 cents to $102.44 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $1.80 to $1,640.60 U.S. an ounce.